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Healthy Weight: Research Synopsis

Meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, large population studies and mechanistic studies in humans indicate that adequate or higher intakes of milk products have a beneficial role in weight management and the prevention of obesity in both adults and children.

Numerous studies have been conducted to evaluate the role of dairy products in weight management. The evidence suggests that dairy products have a favourable effect on body weight and composition in both adults and children.

In adults:

  • Dairy consumption, particularly as part of energy-restricted diets, appears to have a beneficial impact on healthy weight and body composition;
  • The evidence suggests that certain dairy products, such as high-fat dairy and yogurt, are inversely associated with weight gain.

To read the complete summary of evidence for adults, consult Healthy Weight: Results from Studies in Adults.

In children and adolescents:

  • Consuming dairy products as part of a healthy diet may help improve body composition (by reducing adiposity and preserving or increasing lean body mass such as muscle and bone);
  • Studies also indicate that dairy consumption may reduce the likelihood of overweight and obesity;
  • Substituting sugar-sweetened beverages with milk products, including flavoured milk and full-fat dairy, has been associated with decreased body fat.

For further information about the role of milk products in adolescents and children, see Healthy Weight: Results From Studies in Children and Adolescents.

A growing number of studies have also investigated the potential mechanisms through which milk and milk products may influence body weight and composition. The effects appear to occur through several milk components, which act via various pathways.

  • Dietary calcium plays an important role in:
    • adipocyte lipid metabolism,
    • fat oxidation,
    • postprandial fat metabolism,
    • reduced fat absorption,
    • appetite control;
  • Vitamin D, concomitant with calcium, may also promote fat oxidation;
  • Bioactive peptides help decrease fat synthesis, suppress appetite, and increase protein synthesis;
  • Conjugated linoleic acid may have a favourable effect on adiposity, although more research is needed to confirm these findings;
  • Medium-chain fatty acids may decrease lipogenesis and body fat;
  • Lactose is a milk sugar with a low glycemic index, which may help with satiety.

Milk products are also a good source of high-quality protein, which also promotes satiety.

For more information, see Potential Mechanisms of the Effects of Milk Products on Healthy Weight.

Keywords: weight management , obesity , bioactive peptides , conjugated linoleic acid , lactose

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