Current dairy evidence - Archive

  • Dairy food consumption during pregnancy may protect against cow’s milk allergy in children

    Study summary

    Cow’s milk allergy is the most common type of food allergy in children. It is a common belief among expectant mothers that avoiding certain allergenic foods during pregnancy may result in reduced risk of allergies in infants. The determinants of food allergies are, however, not well understood and questions have been raised as to whether maternal diet during pregnancy and lactation may affect consequent development of allergies. A population-based birth cohort study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated whether maternal consumption of dairy products was associated with reduced prevalence of cow’s milk allergy in their offspring. The Finnish researchers collected dietary data (via a food frequency questionnaire) from mothers of 4921 children and looked at intakes of dairy foods, including milk and yoghurt.

    Results

    Participants consumed an average of 810g/day of milk products throughout their pregnancy. Interestingly, a lower risk of cow’s milk allergy was observed in children born to mothers who consumed the highest levels of milk products. These results were found for total milk product consumption, and were not attributed to specific products (for example, yoghurt or milk, or regular or reduced-fat products). When maternal diet during lactation was analysed, this was less so associated with cow’s milk allergy in children.

    Implications 

    he results of this study support current recommendations that mothers should not avoid or eliminate certain foods during pregnancy in order to decrease the risk of food allergy in their infants. Expectant mothers should rather focus on enjoying foods recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines, including milk, hard cheeses and yoghurt.

    Reference 

    Tuokkola J, Luukkainen P, Tapanainen H, Kaila M, Vaarala O, Kenward M et al. Maternal diet during pregnancy and lactation and cow’s milk allergy in offspring. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016;70(5):554-559.

  • Consumption of dairy foods reduces incidence of type 2 diabetes

    Study summary

    A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the association between dairy food consumption and incidence of type 2 diabetes. This meta-analysis included 22 prospective cohort studies and aimed to not only expand on the growing body of evidence around the health benefits of dairy, but also aimed to identify a dose response relationship between milk, cheese or yoghurt and type 2 diabetes incidence.

    Results

    The analysis of over 570,000 individuals and 43,000 cases of type 2 diabetes found consumption of 200g total dairy foods per day resulted in a 4% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. When broken down by dairy category, consumption of yoghurt was strongly inversely associated with type 2 diabetes, where consumption of 80-125g/day resulted in a 14% lower risk.

    Implications 

    This study shows consumption of dairy foods, particularly yoghurt is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. While this meta-analysis was unable to differentiate plain from sweetened yoghurts, this finding is in line with previous papers, and it is thought beneficial effects may lie within the complex food matrix of dairy foods. With only 1 in 10 Australians meeting their intakes for the dairy food group, there is now even more reason to add an extra serve of dairy to every meal.

    Reference 

    Gijsbers L, Ding E, Malik V, de Goede J, Geleijnse J, Soedamah-Muthu S. Consumption of dairy foods and diabetes incidence: a dose-response meta-analysis of observational studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016;103(4):1111-1124.


  • Dairy consumption is not associated with weight change and risk of overweight or obesity in older women.

    Study summary 

    Accumulating evidence is continuing to dispel the common misconception that dairy is linked with weight gain. A large prospective cohort study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated whether consumption of dairy foods had a beneficial effect on weight change. Over 18,000 middle aged and older women were recruited as part of a larger clinical trial (The Women’s Health Study). Participants, who were initially categorised as normal weight, were followed up after 17 years. Weight was self-reported and dairy intake measurements were based on a food frequency questionnaire.

    Results

    After a 17 year follow up, women that had the highest total dairy intake at baseline had the smallest change in weight. Interestingly, when separated out by type of dairy, the greatest benefits were shown for women who were the highest consumers of regular-fat dairy. When looking at risk of becoming overweight, those with the highest regular-fat dairy intake (>3.1 serves/day) had a significantly reduced risk of becoming overweight, compared to those with the lowest regular-fat dairy intakes (<1 serving/day).

    Implications 

    Health professionals are sometimes reluctant to advise their patients to consume regular-fat varieties of milk, cheese and yoghurt due to concerns these may lead to weight gain, however this study provides further supporting evidence that dairy foods, and in particular regular-fat varieties may be important in long term weight management. While the mechanisms behind this are yet to be elucidated, it is thought that these beneficial effects are likely due to the complex dairy food matrix, where saturated fat is accompanied by high levels of calcium and protein which may improve body composition by increasing lean body mass and consequently decreasing the percentage of body fat.

    Reference

    Rautiainen S, Wang L, Lee I, Manson J, Buring J, Sesso H. Dairy consumption in association with weight change and risk of becoming overweight or obese in middle-aged and older women: a prospective cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016;103(4):979-988.


  • Regular fat dairy products and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating pattern

    Study summary

    The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating pattern is characterised by a high intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low or no-fat dairy including milk, yoghurt and cheese. The DASH eating pattern is well known for prevention and management of hypertension and is often prescribed by doctors and other health professionals as the dietary pattern of choice. However, long term compliance with the diet can sometimes be poor, with some finding the lack of variety a limiting factor.  

    The great news is a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that low or no fat dairy foods, typically prescribed as part of the original DASH diet, can be substituted for regular fat dairy without sacrificing the health benefits that come with adherence to the original DASH diet.1

    In a randomised controlled trial, healthy participants (n=36) consumed three different diets, each for a three-week period. These were roughly equivalent in energy and included:

    1. 1. The original DASH eating pattern;

    2. 2. A modified DASH eating pattern with regular fat dairy (as opposed to low or no fat dairy); and

    3. 3. A control diet.

    Measurements included blood pressure and total, LDL and HDL cholesterol.

    Results

    Results revealed that both the original and modified DASH diets significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure when compared with the control diet. Although the modified DASH diet with regular-fat dairy was 6% higher in saturated fat compared with the original pattern, this did not increase total or LDL cholesterol levels.

    Implications

    Despite the small sample size and short intervention period, this was a well-designed study which supports findings by others that all types of dairy foods, including regular and reduced-fat are not implicated in cardiovascular disease risk factors. In fact, consumption of milk, yoghurt and cheese may actually be protective against cardiovascular disease. The authors of this study also suggest these findings are good news for those who want greater flexibility within the DASH eating pattern – these modifications could encourage greater uptake of the DASH diet in those actively seeking to lower their blood pressure, without altering the health benefits that the original DASH diet provides.



    1 Chiu S, Bergeron N, Williams PT, Bray GA, Sutherland B, Krauss R. Comparison of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and a higher-fat DASH diet on blood pressure and lipids and lipoproteins: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr; published online ahead of print. doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.115.123281.

  • Both reduced and regular fat dairy is associated with better metabolic profiles in adolescents

    Study summary

    Further research is emerging about the benefits of consuming all types of dairy foods, including low and regular fat dairy on cardiovascular risk factors. Not only is lowering blood pressure important for adults; it is also important for adolescents. In fact, it is well known that patterns during the younger years track into adulthood, so prevention of chronic disease and risk factors is vital.

    A recent Australian study investigated whether consumption of reduced and regular fat dairy is associated with markers of adolescent cardiometabolic health.1 This work used data from the West Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study; a large population-based study of 2,900 pregnant women, whose babies are followed up at regular intervals. For this study, participants were followed up at 14 (n= 1631) and 17 (n= 1009) year intervals.

    To assess dairy consumption, dietary data was collected via a food frequency questionnaire. Intakes of regular and reduced fat milk, yoghurt and cheese were calculated. In addition, a range of potential cardiometabolic risk factors were measured from 582 participants, including blood pressure and cholesterol.

    Results

    When comparing reduced versus regular fat dairy, consumption of both products were similarly associated with reduced cardiometabolic risk factors.  The major findings were as follows:

    • • In boys, both regular and reduced fat dairy were similarly associated with a reduction in diastolic blood pressure (0.66 mmHg for reduced fat dairy and 0.47mmHg for regular fat dairy)

    • • Reduced-fat dairy was associated with a small 2% reduction in HDL cholesterol

    • • There were no significant associations for girls.

    Implications

    Recent Australian dietary data from the National Health Survey revealed the poor quality diets of teenagers; this population group consume an alarming volume of sugary drinks and intakes of dairy are low. The teenage years are an important period of growth and development and as such, it is important to promote consumption of dairy to this group. This study has shown both regular and reduced-fat options are great for health and choosing and promoting dairy foods over other options, such as soft drinks, is important for improving the overall quality of the diet, health and wellbeing.



    1 O'Sullivan TA, Bremner AP, Mori TA, Beilin LJ, Wilson C Hafekost K, Ambrosini GL, Huang RC, Oddy WH. Regular fat and reduced fat dairy products show similar associations with markers of adolescent cardiometabolic health. Nutrients. 2016;2;8(1) doi: 10.3390/nu8010022.

  • Dairy food avoidance in Australia

    Study summary

    The most recent estimates of food avoidance in Australia came from the 2011–2012 Australian Health Survey, where 17% of those aged two years or older reported avoiding foods due to allergy or intolerance, with dairy products most commonly being blamed (approximately 4.5%). It is likely this figure was an underestimate of those avoiding dairy foods, as there are numerous other barriers to dairy consumption other than just intolerances.

    Researchers from the University of Adelaide and CSIRO have recently shown a substantial amount of the Australian population are avoiding dairy foods. In a national population-based survey, 1,184 adult participants completed postal surveys about food allergies and intolerances. This was part of a larger piece of work, with the study originally investigating motivations behind wheat avoidance.1

    Results

    Some of the major findings were as follows:

    • Approximately 16.6% of the population may be avoiding dairy foods, which is much higher than previous estimates

    • The majority (60%) of those avoiding dairy foods reported doing so due to associated symptoms including stomach cramps, diarrhoea, mucus build up and skin problems

    • Twenty-three per cent reported having a formal diagnosis which required avoidance of dairy foods such as lactose intolerance, high cholesterol and asthma, amongst other causes

    • Milk and cheese, two food group foods, were the dairy foods most commonly avoided. 

    Implications

    These results highlight that there are likely to be many more cases of dairy food avoidance in the Australian population than first thought. There is a widespread tendency to self-diagnose, especially when it comes to food intolerances and even in those who did seek professional opinion from a health professional, this advice was at times, misinformed. Dairy foods such as milk, yoghurt and cheese can be consumed by those who have lactose intolerance and research has shown consumption of dairy foods is not associated with high cholesterol, asthma, mucus buil-up or skin problems such as acne.

    Recommendations to eliminate dairy foods for these reasons are not evidence-based and removing milk, yoghurt and cheese from the diet means some of the population is missing out on the unique package of nutrients that dairy foods provide. Not only are dairy foods a good source of calium, they contain protein, vitamin A, vitamin B, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, carbohydrate and form an important part of a healthy diet. 




    1 Yantcheva B, Golley S, Topping D, Mohr P. Food avoidance in an Australian adult population sample: the case of dairy products. Public Health Nutr. 2015;20:1-8, published online ahead of print.