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Low-Fat Dairy Consumption Linked to Decreased Risk of Incident Metabolic Syndrome in Children, Adolescents

The consumption of dairy products, especially low-fat milk and yogurt products, was found to be associated with a lower risk of incident metabolic syndrome in children and adolescents, according to the results of a study published in Acta Diabetologica.

A team of researchers from Iran and Canada prospectively examined 531 children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 18 years who did not have metabolic syndrome at baseline. These children and adolescents were evaluated over a mean follow-up period of 6.6 years. The investigators used a food frequency questionnaire to estimate the participants’ consumption of dairy products and other food categories. Multivariable regression analysis was used to examine the odds of incident metabolic syndrome associated with the consumption of dairy products.

After the follow-up period, the incidence of metabolic syndrome was 9.8% in the overall cohort. In an analysis adjusted for potential confounders, the odds ratio (OR) for incident metabolic syndrome was 0.48 (95% CI, 0.23-1.00) for total dairy consumption when researchers compared individuals in the highest vs lowest tertile. Additionally, the ORs for incident metabolic syndrome were 0.44 (95% CI, 0.21-0.92) for consumption of low-fat dairy products, 0.46 (95% CI, 0.22-0.98) for consumption of low-fat milk, and 0.45 (95% CI, 0.21-0.97) for consumption of low-fat yogurt.

Participants who had a moderate intake of regular cheese had an associated decreased risk of metabolic syndrome (OR, 0.43; 95% CI, 0.19-0.97). Replacing 1 serving per day of total dairy with nuts also corresponded with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome (OR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.42-0.95). In contrast, replacing 1 serving per day of dairy with red or processed meat corresponded with a higher risk of incident metabolic syndrome (OR, 1.55; 95% CI, 1.21-1.97). There was no significant association between high-fat dairy consumption and the risk for metabolic syndrome.

Limitations of this study include the inclusion of only urban participants from Tehran, as well as the reliance on food frequency questionnaire data, which may have led to measurement errors.

The investigators wrote that these findings reinforce the importance of investing “in a strategy to improve the dietary pattern and consume healthy food groups, particularly low-fat dairy, to prevent cardio-metabolic risk factors in children and adolescents.”


Yuzbashian E, Nosrati-Oskouie M, Asghari G, Chan CB, Mirmiran P, Azizi F. Associations of dairy intake with risk of incident metabolic syndrome in children and adolescents: Tehran Lipid and Glucose StudyActa Diabetol. 2021;58(4):447-457. doi:10.1007/s00592-020-01651-0

Newswriter: Brandon May | Endocrinology Advisor

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