MONDAY, March 18 (HealthDay News) -- Drinking low-fat or skim milk does not prevent toddlers from gaining excess weight and is actually associated with overweight and obesity in preschool children, a new study finds.
The findings challenge a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Heart Association (AHA) that all children drink low-fat or skimmed milk after age 2 to reduce their saturated fat intake and avoid excess weight gain.
One expert not connected to the study said it brings up interesting questions.
"For many years the message to parents has been simple: after about 2 years of age it is recommended to change your child's milk consumption to low-fat or skim milk," said Marlo Mittler, a registered dietitian at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park. "This latest study says we need to think this through."
In the study, researchers gathered data about the milk consumption of 11,000 American children when they were 2 and 4 years old. They were also weighed at both ages.
The number of children who were overweight/obese was 30 percent at age 2 and 32 percent at age 4. Overweight/obese children were more likely to drink skimmed/semi-skimmed milk at age 2 (14 percent) and age 4 (16 percent) than normal weight children (9 percent at age 2 and 13 percent at age 4).
The average weight of children who drank 2 percent/full-fat milk was also lower than that of children who drank skimmed/semi-skimmed milk, even after the researchers accounted for other factors, according to the study published online March 18 in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.
When they analyzed weight gain trends over time, the researchers found no overall differences between children who drank skimmed/semi-skimmed milk and those who drank 2 percent/full-fat milk.
However, children who regularly drank skimmed/semi-skimmed milk and were not overweight/
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