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Study backs dairy recommendations for weight loss

By Stephen Daniells , 24-Nov-2008

Cutting out dairy products during a weight loss programme may be misconceived, according to a new study from the US.

Scientists led by Michael Zemel from the University of Tennessee found that the recommended levels of dairy products may be used during weight maintenance without contributing to weight gain compared to diets low in dairy products.

The study adds to the ongoing debate about a potential role of milk and other dairy foods in weight management. Dairy industries in Europe and the US have been promoting milk-based products for consumers who want to slim for some time but the subject remains controversial.

Zemel and his co-workers recruited 244 overweight and obese people with an average age of 40.3, and randomly assigned them to a weight loss and subsequent weight management regime, and either the recommended daily intake of three dairy servings as fluid milk, yogurt, or cheese, or to consume one or fewer servings of dairy per day.

During the weight management part of the study, the researchers failed to observe any significant differences between the groups in terms of weight or body composition.

On the other hand, the recommended dairy group consumed significantly more energy than the low dairy group. A reduction in blood calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D) levels, a form of vitamin D in the body, was observed in the recommended. Calcitrol may modulate both lipogenesis and lipolysis, said the researchers, which both result in increased lipid filling and adiposity (fat buildup).

Take home message

“Fifty percent of adults attempt to lose and maintain weight loss annually,” wrote the researchers. “This investigation could find no disadvantage for weight maintenance by consuming a diet with the recommended levels of dairy products compared to a low level of dairy products.

“Being able to consume greater amounts of energy may provide benefit for chronic adherence to a weight maintenance diet. This study indicates that dairy products may be used in a weight maintenance diet without contributing to weight gain compared to diets that are low in dairy products,” they concluded.

Source : Nutrition & Metabolism
2008, 5:28
“Effects of dairy intake on weight maintenance”
Authors: M.B. Zemel, J.E. Donnelly, B.K. Smith, D.K. Sullivan, J. Richards, D. Morgan-Hanusa, M.S. Mayo, X. Sun, G. Cook-Wiens, B.W. Bailey, E.L. Van Walleghen, R.A. Washburn

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