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Back to Symposium 2014

Dairy fat, obesity and cardiometabolic health

Mario Kratz Mario Kratz, PhD

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and
University of Washington

We conducted a systematic literature review of observational studies on the relationship between dairy-fat and high-fat dairy consumption with obesity and cardiometabolic disease.

In 18 of 25 studies, high-fat dairy intake was inversely associated with measures of adiposity. Studies examining the relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and metabolic health reported either no association, or an association suggesting better metabolic health in individuals consuming more full-fat dairy products. Studies investigating the connection between high-fat dairy intake and diabetes or cardiovascular disease incidence were inconsistent. In line with these observational data, biological effects of several unique fatty acids contained in dairy fat, including butyric acid and trans-palmitoleic acid, have been demonstrated or suggested.

Taken together, the observational evidence does not support the hypothesis that dairy fat or high-fat dairy foods contribute to obesity or cardiometabolic risk and, in fact, suggests that high-fat dairy consumption within typical dietary patterns is inversely associated with obesity risk.

Well-designed randomized controlled trials comparing the impact of specific amounts and types of dairy products on energy balance and metabolic health are urgently needed to confirm whether a causal effect underlies any of the consistently observed associations between the intake of full-fat dairy products, lower adiposity, and better metabolic health.

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