URBANA College-age kids who don't consume at least three servings of dairy daily are three times more likely to develop metabolic syndrome than those who do, said a new University of Illinois study.
"And only one in four young persons in the study was getting the recommended amount of dairy," said Margarita Teran-Garcia, a U of I professor of food science and human nutrition.
That alarming finding means that three-fourths of the 18- to 25-year-old college applicants surveyed are at risk for metabolic syndrome, the researcher said.
Metabolic syndrome occurs when a person has three of the following risk factors: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and unhealthy cholesterol and lipid levels. Having this disorder greatly increases a person's chances of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes, she said.
Although scientists believe that dairy products guard against obesity and the health problems that accompany extra weight, they aren't sure how it happens. "It may be the calcium, it may be the proteins. Whatever the mechanism, evidence suggests that dairy products are effective in attaining and maintaining a healthy weight," she said.
In the study, 339 Mexican college applicants filled out a food frequency questionnaire and were then evaluated for metabolic syndrome risk factors. The analysis controlled for sex, age, family history of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and physical activity.
The study is part of the Up Amigos project, a collaboration between scientists at the U of I and the Universidad Autnoma de San Luis Potosί in Mexico. The researchers are following university applicants to learn how changes in their BMI, weight, and eating and exercise habits affect the students' health over time.
The research is important to Hispanics in the United States because many have a genetic predisposition for very low HDL (good) cholesterol, Teran-Garcia said.
|Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer|
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences