Overweight and obesity are major public health concerns with approximately 32% and 17% of U.S. children aged 2 – 19 being classified as overweight or obese, respectively. While the cause of overweight and obesity is multifactorial, changes in eating habits and physical activity patterns have been proposed as contributing factors to the obesity epidemic. For example, the displacement of nutrient rich foods and beverages with non-nutrient dense items may be influencing childhood obesity. Many children do not consume the recommended servings of the Food Groups to Encourage, i.e. low-fat and fat-free dairy foods, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains identified by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans which results in low intakes of calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E. While attention has focused primarily on reducing energy intake and/or increasing energy expenditure for weight maintenance, a promising beneficial role for dairy products in weight management has emerged. Most research has focused on adults, but there is evidence in children and adolescents indicating either a beneficial or neutral effect of dairy food consumption on body weight or body composition. The current review provides and assessment of the scientific evidence on the effects of dairy food consumption on body weight and body composition in children and adolescents.
Keywords: Dairy, calcium, body weight, body composition, body fat, obesity, children, adolescents, weight management, BMIs
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