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Longitudinal evaluation of milk type consumed and weight status in preschoolers

Abstract

Objective To evaluate relationships between type of milk consumed and weight status among preschool children.

Design Longitudinal cohort study.

Setting The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort, a representative sample of US children.

Participants 10 700 US children examined at age 2 and 4 years.

Main outcome measures Body mass index (BMI) z score and overweight/obese status as a function of milk type intake.

Results The majority of children drank whole or 2% milk (87% at 2 years, 79.3% at 4 years). Across racial/ethnic and socio-economic status subgroups, 1%/skim milk drinkers had higher BMI z scores than 2%/whole milk drinkers. In multivariable analyses, increasing fat content in the type of milk consumed was inversely associated with BMI z score (p<0.0001). Compared to those drinking 2%/whole milk, 2- and 4-year-old children drinking 1%/skim milk had an increased adjusted odds of being overweight (age 2 OR 1.64, p<0.0001; age 4 OR 1.63, p<0.0001) or obese (age 2 OR 1.57, p<0.01; age 4 OR 1.64, p<0.0001). In longitudinal analysis, children drinking 1%/skim milk at both 2 and 4 years were more likely to become overweight/obese between these time points (adjusted OR 1.57, p<0.05).

Conclusions Consumption of 1%/skim milk is more common among overweight/obese preschoolers, potentially reflecting the choice of parents to give overweight/obese children low-fat milk to drink. Nevertheless, 1%/skim milk does not appear to restrain body weight gain between 2 and 4 years of age in this age range, emphasising a need for weight-targeted recommendations with a stronger evidence base.

  • Nutrition
  • Growth
  • Epidemiology

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