Increasing dairy can help weight loss

Recent research findings add to the growing body of evidence showing the beneficial role of dairy foods in managing weight.

The new study published by the CSIRO in the journal Nutrients looked at the effects of consuming dairy in people who were on a calorie-restricted diet.

“This study adds further confirmation to other work that shows consuming 2-4 serves of dairy foods (milk, cheese and yoghurt) or dairy supplements, as part of a calorie-restricted diet, can lead to greater weight and fat loss, compared to a control diet,” said Emma Glassenbury, Health Professional Communication Manager from Dairy Australia.

The study collated findings from 27 trials looking at the effect of dairy consumption on weight, body fat mass and lean muscle mass in adults. It found participants who consumed more dairy also retained 75% more lean mass (or muscle) compared to those consuming diets lower in dairy, which has important implications for weight management.

“These very positive findings, favouring an adequate intake of dairy foods, come at a time when the Australian Health Survey shows nine out of ten Australians are not meeting recommendations for the milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternative food groups,” said Ms Glassenbury.

The Australian Health Survey showed adults are consuming an average of 1.5 serves of dairy, which is well below what the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend for most age and gender groups.

Misconceptions that dairy foods, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt lead to weight gain have contributed to their avoidance, despite the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommending adults aged 19-50 years consume 2.5 serves of dairy foods each day.

“This study shows that not only is an adequate consumption of dairy foods good for your general health and bones, there is the added bonus that adding an extra serve of dairy every day will not hinder weight loss and can contribute to weight management.” said Ms Glassenbury.

“Dairy foods are rich in several nutrients that contribute to a healthy body weight, such as calcium, which reduces absorption of fat,” said CSIRO’s Dr Welma Stonehouse, one of the study’s authors.

“Protein and some fatty acids in dairy products also assist with controlling hunger, while protein is also important for retaining and building muscle. “The vast majority of the studies we reviewed were undertaken with women, so further research is needed to understand the effects with men,” Dr Stonehouse said.

Footnote: Stonehouse, W., Wycherley, T., Luscombe-Marsh, N., Taylor, P., Brinkworth, G., & Riley, M. (2016). Dairy Intake Enhances Body Weight and Composition Changes during Energy Restriction in 18-50-Year-Old Adults-A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients, 8(7). doi:10.3390/nu8070394

Media enquiries:

For interviews with CSIRO scientists, please contact Eamonn Bermingham, Communication Manager, Health & Biosecurity, CSIRO.
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Richard Meredith — Media Manager, Dairy Australia
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