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Consuming full-fat dairy products less likely to cause obesity

full-fat dairy

Two new studies have revealed that eating full-fat dairy products can cut obesity and diabetes risks.

The study published in the journal Circulation has found that people who consumed whole milk or full-fat dairy products had a 46% lower risk of developing diseases such as diabetes and obesity when being compared to those who opted for low-fat products. The findings go against standard recommendations of replacing full-fat dairy with low-fat or non-fat types.

A separate study involved 18,000 middle-aged females who were part of the Women’s Health Study. All the women were of normal weight and did not have diabetes, heart disease and cancer at the study onset.

Researchers found that the women who consumed higher amounts of full-fat dairy had an 8% lower risk of developing obesity, with the same connection not seen with intake of low-fat dairy.

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Study author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian told Time magazine that he thinks these results together with results from other similar studies do call for a policy of recommending low-fat dairy products only. However, he also points out that there is no possible proof that individuals who consume low-fat dairy fair better than those who consume whole-fat dairy.

full-fat dairy
Quark (Image: Creative commons)

One may ask, how can high-fat dairy products, which are known to provide more calories, reduce risk of weight gain?

Researchers note that components such as proteins, phosphorous, calcium and vitamin D found in dairy products may aid in weight control management.

The team explained that calcium is known to play a vital role in metabolizing energy by making insoluble soaps or bonding with bile acids.

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Previous study on full-fat dairy

A separate study conducted three years ago by Swedish researchers found similar results, showing that middle-aged males who consumed high-fat butter, cream and milk were remarkably less likely to develop obesity over a 12-year period than those who almost never consumed dairy high in fat.

full-fat dairy

Dr. Mozaffarian advises that national guidelines should be reevaluated and consumers should be allowed to choose whole or lower-fat dairy such milk, cheese and yogurt.

Currently, a normal diet established by nationwide guidelines suggests that saturated fat consumption should be kept to less than the 10% of the daily intake.

The study finds that it wouldn’t be productive to advise only low-fat dairy products, although the results found by the researchers may change the way Americans lead their healthy lifestyle. Authors have said that it may be too soon to change dietary and nutrition guidelines.

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Dr. Mozaffarian concludes that while there is insufficient proof to suggest only whole-fat dairy, the results are strong enough not to recommend low-fat dairy only.

Eminent cardiologist Dr. Mehmet Oz writes that while it seems unreasonable to go high-fat because it’s loaded with calories, sensory feel of consuming high-fat dairy may induce more fulfillments and precisely makes people consume fewer calories.

Some low-fat products contain huge amounts of sugar, which means people end up consuming more calories than the food products that are full-fat, Dr. Oz says. He also adds that people shouldn’t change their diets drastically, but instead the key should be moderation.

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Salahuddin Ahmed is a freelance medical writer and blogger, who has been writing about medicine and health for more than a decade. A former New York transplant, he now lives in his native Dhaka. He received a Bachelor's degree from the University of Louisiana and a diploma on eTechnology from NIIT, Dhaka. A voracious eater, Salahuddin only dines at restaurants that offer free refills on rice.