Leading experts call for dairy to play a key role in combatting childhood obesity

Published 25 January 16

NMRUSwapping sugary drinks for milk or water will help to combat the growing risk of childhood obesity, experts explained on Friday 22 January.

Childhood obesity is at the top of the public health agenda, yet children continue to consume excess calories through sugar-sweetened drinks. Experts are calling for a simple swap of sugar-sweetened drinks for healthier beverages to help reduce body fat and body weight in children.

Milk and dairy foods are a nutritious and integral part of the diet in the UK, packed full of nutrients such as calcium, iodine, B group vitamins, and proteins. Research also shows that dairy plays a positive role in weight loss by increasing fat oxidation (burn), fat excretion and suppressing the appetite.

Following National Obesity Week, diet and lifestyle experts came together in London today at a conference organised by The Dairy Council and supported by AHDB Dairy to address the development and reduction of childhood obesity – from pregnancy to playground.

The conference also looked at the impact maternal diet in pregnancy has on the risk of obesity in children.

The implications of childhood obesity for future health are significant, such as increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and disability.

Dr Anne Mullen, Director of Nutrition at The Dairy Council, said: “Childhood obesity is undoubtedly a pressing concern in public health and policy, but it remains a hot topic in research with many questions still un-answered. Childhood obesity is a topic that’s rarely off the scientific, media and political agenda.

“There is unending controversy over dairy’s relationship with weight loss. There is however growing evidence that suggests dairy can, in fact, suppress the appetite and increase fat excretion, playing a key role in a healthy and balanced diet. Not only that, but milk is the most simple sugar-swap for drinks containing calories and very little other nutrition in children’s diets in the UK.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our speakers who have shared their invaluable insights with us today. Dairy is not just a tasty and nutritious food, but it also plays a key role in preventing childhood obesity and maintaining health.”

Throughout the afternoon, a number of leading experts from across Europe who are at the forefront of understanding childhood obesity presented their research on the positive impact of dairy on childhood obesity.