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milkIf you believe the conventional wisdom about eating fat causing weight gain then the thought of reduced fat products causing people to be overweight might sound ridiculous. Yet a new report suggests that two-year-olds who drink skimmed milk are more likely to become overweight and children who drink whole milk actually gain fewer pounds.

Parents who give their toddlers skimmed milk to prevent them gaining weight may be wasting their time, researchers say. A study found that two-year-olds who drank full-fat milk put on fewer pounds by the age of four than those on low-fat. Academics believe this is because higher fat milk makes children feel fuller for longer, and they eat less as a result. I suspect it may also be due to a higher percentage of sugar in skimmed milk, for example, Skimmed Milk typically has 27.8g of sugar per pint vs 26.7g in a pint of full fat / whole milk.

The US study concluded that the type of milk given to children ‘may not matter that much’ despite fears the obesity epidemic is being fuelled by diets high in fat.

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine found two-year-olds who drank mainly low-fat and skimmed milk were 57 per cent more likely to become overweight by the age of four. But the average weight of children drinking full-fat milk was lower over the same period.

Professor Mark DeBoer, who led the research, said: ‘We assumed the study would show that children drinking low-fat and skimmed milk would be helped to keep their weight down, but this was not the case. If you are going to drink milk, and we strongly back the importance of drinking milk at a young age, it doesn’t seem to matter that much which type it is.’

In the US, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association recommend all children drink low-fat or skimmed milk after the age of two to ward off obesity.

In contrast, British children under five are not advised to drink skimmed milk – which has virtually all the fat removed – because they need the extra energy for growth.

The US study asked 11,000 parents what type of milk their children drank at aged two and four: skimmed; one per cent semi-skimmed; two per cent milk fat; full-fat, or soy.

The children were also weighed and measured at both ages – with around one in three being overweight or obese at both time points, says a report published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Heavier children were more likely to drink skimmed and semi-skimmed milk, with 14 per cent of heavy two-year-olds and 16 per cent of heavy four-year-olds drinking it, compared with nine per cent of normal weight two-year-olds and 13 per cent of normal weight four-year-olds.

Professor DeBoer said parents may be acting from the best motives by choosing low-fat milks, but milk fat may increase a feeling of fullness so reduce the appetite for other high calorie foods.

He said: ‘Physicians don’t have much time to advise parents worried about their children putting on weight, so they may be better off sticking to advice we know works.

‘This includes cutting down on TV watching and sugary drinks, and increasing exercise and fruit and vegetable intake.’

2013 Miles in 2013

I am doing my 2013 miles in 2013 challenge in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust as I have been surprised since I started fundraising for the CF Trust just how many people are unaware of this disease and so I hope my efforts will not just raise money, but also awareness of the UK’s most most common life-threatening inherited disease.

The first person to commit to sponsoring my 2013 mile challenge has committed to 1p per mile (£20.13 in total) and this got me thinking. I am hoping that as many as possible of those reading this will commit to do the same and the best thing is, if each person does this on a “pay as you go” type approach all you will need to part with is approx £2 just after each pay day. In January I completed 205.9 miles and in February I completed a further 200.9 miles. If you can please spare £4.07 to help the Cystic Fibrosis Trust it will be greatly appreciated.

The easiest way to give your sponsorship is to visit my Just Giving page:

2013 Miles in 2013 – The rules

The rules for my 2013 miles in 2013 challenge are quite simple:

  1. All miles must be completely self powered (no motors, sails, etc)
  2. I must be able to evidence all miles, either via GPS or with a picture of any static gym equipment

To complete my 2013 miles I will be running, cycling, rowing and who knows, I might even try a few other self powered methods along the way.