Kids drinking low-fat milk gain more weight – again!

Low Fat

Big mistake?

Is low-fat milk good for you and your family? Yet another study says no.

The start of the low-fat craze back in the 1980’s perfectly matches up with the start of the obesity epidemic. A coincidence? Probably not.

Low-fat products usually contain more sugar and more starches. If not you’ll probably end up eating more carbs anyway as you’ll be hungrier. This raises the levels of the fat-storing hormone insulin. Study after study prove that low-fat diets are worse for our weight than high-fat low-carb diets. The same is true for kids.

Not surprisingly, a recent Swedish study showed that people using low-fat dairy products end up gaining more weight. Now a new American study shows the same thing. Kids drinking low-fat milk are not only more often obese, they also tend to keep gaining more weight than kids drinking full-fat milk:

LA Times: Low-fat milk doesn’t help toddlers’ weight, study says

When will the disastrous low-fat craze end? How many more kids are going to get obese for no good reason?

What do you think?


  1. mezzo
    Why not use common sense? The fat-content of breast-milk is around 4%. Not exactly low-fat and if that is what nature provides for the child there may be a good reason for it.
    Reply: #10
  2. me
    Reply: #6
  3. Emma
    You can't win them all, our dear diet doctor is a big fan of paleo related "diets" and therefore isn't an advocate of high dairy diets. He's just using articles such as this that more people can relate to; low fat products are bad for you. There's plenty of natural foods like nuts and avocados or meat fat, to keep up a healthy fast intake, sans milk.
  4. Margaret
    I love your website Andreas and I look forward to each and every post.
    You are making the world a healthier place. :-)
  5. Alan
    We are the only species that drink the milk of another species. We are also the only species that continue to drink milk after weaning. I don't drink it myself but each to their own..
  6. @ me Report comes from this study High- and Low-Fat Dairy Intake, Recurrence, and Mortality After Breast Cancer Diagnosis.
    I don't think it sensible to compare USA dairy with UK/EU dairy.
    We don't use Bovine somatotropin to enhance milk production they do.
    We don't have such large industrialized dairy units although huge mega-dairies are planned at the moment our dairy farmers rely more on grass and grass based foods.
    If you look at the contents of Dairy Pellets use in the USA I'm not sure that Soy (more hormone) Cottonseed oil (more omega 6 inflammation) Wet gluten, (a by-product from making high-fructose corn syrup, or corn sugar) may be adversely affecting the quality of US milk.
    They based the study on a FHFR-FQ Here is an example Please complete it as accurately as you can then set it aside and complete another exactly the same in 5 or 10 years time. Do you really think the results will be exactly the same?
  7. mezzo
    Alan: we are the only species that have LEARNT to use the milk of another species - to our advantage. Besides that statement is not entirely true. If you watch cows on pasture you may observe that grown cows occasionally try to "steal" milk from other cows.
    Reply: #11
  8. FrankG
    I have a local source for milk and cheese; which has a single, healthy and well-cared for herd -- you can go meet the girls in their pastures if you like. They provide whole milk (why not just call it "milk" like we used to when I was a boy?) in glass bottles. It is a big part of my diet (what I eat/drink) and I keep my University student son well supplied with it as well :-)

    Any medication for the cows is prescribed by a vet and that cow's milk is kept out of distribution to customers.

    They have to pasteurise it, as that is federal law in Canada but they use a longer, lower temperature process rather than the flash heat and rapid cool of the "big boys".. this I am convinced, leads to less destruction of the proteins etc...

    Their milk is NOT homogenised -- a process whereby it is shot through a fine nozzle to break down the fat molecules making the milk "all the same" -- so if you leave it stand, the cream will rise to the top... there is nothing quite like opening the next bottle and getting that taste of cream first!

    My only regret is that they do not [yet] produce butter, or cream -- the cost of licensing, inspection etc.. is prohibitive -- part of a policy no doubt underwritten by the commercial producers... "in the interest's of public safety"... of course :-P

    In my experience it bears little resemble in taste, or mouth feel to the "store bought" milk that has been widely collected and processed from many, many dairy farms over an huge area... with who knows what state of health, feed, hormone and antibiotic status, each of those anonymous cows has been subjected to.

    Another note on "commercial" milk is that while I had always assumed that 1%, 2% etc... was made by taking away the fat; I now understand that ALL the milk is instead broken down into base constituents and then re-formulated to make the desired low-fattedness -- a bit like the way they make "whole-wheat" flour by taking highly processed/refined white flour and throwing back in an hand-full of the brown stuff -- yummy!!!

  9. It just seems so obvious. However, the notion that milk is "part of a healthy diet" is drummed into the heads of parents and kids on a daily basis. It's tough to overcome that misconception.

    I haven't drank milk in ages, but I do eat a lot of cheese and butter. :)

  10. yuma
    That is factually incorrect.

    PHD's Dr. Jaminet shows on page 31 of his book (thoroughly referenced) that the composition of human milk is 39% carbs, 54.7% fats and 7% protein.

    Reply: #12
  11. yuma
    I've seen those masked bandit cows steal milk at gunpoint.

    But they split once the bull sheriff arrives.

  12. Asbjørn

    That is factually incorrect.
    PHD's Dr. Jaminet shows on page 31 of his book (thoroughly referenced) that the composition of human milk is 39% carbs, 54.7% fats and 7% protein.

    Mass % and energy % are different - see PHD pages 25 & 26.

    100g of milk contains 4g of fat. Those 4g of fat contains 54% of the energy (calories) in the milk. ;-)

    Reply: #13
  13. yuma
    Page 26 of the book states "milk has a macronutrient profile of 54 percent fat, 39 percent carbs and 7 percent proteins."

    From notes at PHD website: [8] George DE, DeFrancesca BA. Human milk in comparison to cow milk. In Textbook of gastroenterology and nutrition, ed. Lebenthals E. New York: Raven Press, 1989, 239–61. See also Prentice A. Constituents of human milk.

    The poster did not specify "mass %" leading a reader to believe he referred to energy % commonly used on this site.

  14. moreporkplease

    "to our advantage"

    Absolutely. Humans have evolved the capacity to drink milk at least 4 times independently in various populations. It's clearly a tremendous nutrition advantage for those of us with those genetics. And I don't intend to throw it away. :) If you have the genes to tolerate milk why not? To argue that "we're the only species that does it," as if that's a problem, is just dumb. We're the only species that uses an alphabet too - so do we have to stop? It's just a ridiculous statement prima facie.

  15. François Melançon
    I downloaded the article by Kroenke, Kwan, Sweeney, Castillo and Caan which supposedly "proves" that high fat dairy increases mortality risk. To understand that the authors cannot come to the conclusions they have arrived to, one must understand biostatistics and epidemiology. I'll try to give here a crash course. Sorry if I'm a tad technical. I'll try to stick to plain English as much as I can. Very quickly: who am I? A physician with 30 years of clinical practice, finishing a Masters in Public Health, where I studies biostatistics and epidemiology.

    So here are my comments: first, Ted Hutchinson (comment number 6) is perfectly right about somatotropin hormone use. But even when you take this into consideration, it is impossible to back any of the conclusions of the authors. What the lay press stated proves they know nothing about biostatistics and epidemiology.

    Now, an exerpt of the results section of the abstract (to keep this as simple as possible). Sorry, it is dry as can be.
    "Compared with the reference (0 to <0.5 servings/day), those consuming larger amounts of high-fat dairy had higher breast cancer mortality (0.5 to <1.0 servings/day: hazard ratio [HR] = 1.20, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.82 to 1.77; and ≥1.0 servings/day: HR = 1.49, 95% CI = 1.00 to 2.24, P trend = .05), higher all-cause mortality (P trend < .001), and higher non–breast cancer mortality (P trend = .007); the relationship with breast cancer recurrence was positive but not statistically significant. The higher risk appeared consistent across different types of high-fat dairy products.
    Conclusions: Intake of high-fat dairy, but not low-fat dairy, was related to a higher risk of mortality after breast cancer diagnosis."

    What does this gibberish mean?
    First, let's look at the Confidence Interval (CI). If the confidence interval contains "one", this means that there is no difference between what is being compared.
    So: Higher breast cancer mortality? Let's see:
    For 1/2 to 1 serving per day, their number is 1.2 (theoretically 20% more than the reference) UNTIL you look at the confidence interval: .82 to 1.77 - this contains one, which means there is strictly no difference between the groups being compared.
    For one or more serving per day, the calculated risk is 1.49 (49% more!), once again UNTIL you look at the confidence interval which is 1.00 to 2.24. once again, it contains one, which means there is no difference between what is being compared.
    In the abstract, which is what most physicians and dietitians will read because they are unable to interpret the biostatistical part of the article, the authors cut corners and simply state that "consuming high fat dairy will bring "higher all-cause mortality (P trend < .001), and higher non–breast cancer mortality (P trend = .007)". No explanation.

    So instead on relying on these numbers, I went to the article to look at results. What do they show?
    Higher all cause mortality: for the 1/2 to 1 portion per day, 1.05 - 5% more risk - (CI .88 to 1.53) - contains ONE, therefore not a significant finding. For the more than one portion per day, 1.64 (CI 1.24 to 2.17, the first significant result in this study.
    Higher non breat-cancer mortality? 1/2 to 1 portion per day: 1.06 (CI .71 to 1.59, not significant) and for the more than 1 portion per day, 1.67 (Confidence Interval 1.13 to 2.47). This is also statistically significant. So what do these two positive results mean? Not very much. In this study where most results are not statistically significant, it is tough to make a strong statement. Those positive results could be caused by something else than fat, the added hormones hinted to by Ted Hutchinson for example.

    Now: it is important to understand the p value. I adapted here an explanation from their texts on the subject were quite nice and undestandable, so I decided to modify and expand on their text rather than re-writing an explanation from my notes.
    First, an important fact that is unknown to virtually everyone: with biostatistics, it is impossible to prove anything. Curiously, we can nevertheless “prove” that things are false. So since we cannot prove that things are true, we try to prove that the contrary of what we want to prove is false. That is what biostatistitians call the "null hypothesis".

    A p-value is the statistical evidence against this null hypothesis. It does not tell you that the null hypothesis is true or not, it only tells you that there is significant evidence to reject it or not (because those results could be due to mere chance). Commonly a p-value under 0.05 is considered significant. With a p-value of 0.05, that means that there is only a 5% risk that the values that have been found could be due to chance. 5% risk of findings caused by chance is considered acceptable. Over that, it is much less acceptable. The true p-value is then calculated according to a number of factors, including the type of statistical distribution. If the calculated p-value is greater than the arbitrarily chosen value, then we say that the null hypothesis has to be accepted (we have to accept as true the contrary of what we wanted to prove). It is only when the calculated p-value is at 0.05 or lower that we reject the null hypothesis and therefore accept our hypothesis… Are you still following me?

    In the study that “proves” that high fat milk products increase the odds of recurring cancer death and other horrible things, here are some calculated p-values: for recurrence of breast cancer, .18 (18% odds that the findings could be caused by chance). For breast cancer deaths, p-value is .82 (82% odds that this finding could be caused by chance), death by all causes, p-value .94 (age adjusted) (94% odds that the finding could be caused by chance). These findings must be rejected. They mean nothing because the odds of them being caused by chance are much too high.

    Got it? We have numerous confidence intervals in this study that mean that there is NO DIFFERENCE between the reference group (no high fat) and the fat consumption we are looking at. We also have numerous p-values that mean that the findings have to be rejected because the odds of these findings could be caused by chance alone are too high.

    Biostatistics and epidemiology are not exact sciences. Nutritional research is very difficult for the patients (try to fill out one of those questionnaires) and for the researchers who have to come up with a meaningful analysis of the data, while taking into account a number of other factors that could be the cause of what is observed. Researchers also do their analysis with their own biases (we all have some). So before believing anything that is written in the lay press, please go to the original article or read critiques done by people who can interpret this gibberish ( is a very good place to go for this kind of critique!) But I guess I'm preaching to the converted...

  16. bill
    " Are you still following me?"

    Yes! And thank you for posting that analysis.

  17. moreporkplease
    @ bill

    Agree, the Francois stuff is great. He should post more.

    @ Francois

    Are you on Facebook? Can we friend you? Do you have a blog? I really want to read more like this! Fantastic.

  18. Francois Melancon
    Facebook? Not yet, thinking about it.
    I had a blog until very recently, but cancelled it through lack of time (I'm finishing a Masters in Public Health while doing a residency and writing a nutrition book with my wife in both English and French (LCHF of course). If you do read French, I write an article for physicians that is posted online every month in a postgraduate journal called "Le Clinicien" - the Clinician, published by STA Communication. My personal blog will be up for a few days before it goes down. if you want to take a look, the address is Though it did take time, I'm missing already this type of writing so I'm considering starting over in a different style with Blogger. Pending this, I'll post comments on this blog to add my two cents worth once in a while when some articles need clarification. Until then, keep on reading this great blog: Andreas is really doing a fantastic job.
  19. I didn't know low-fat milk can help you gain weight even faster. Maybe a small amount of milk plus other essential nutrients from other food sources would be enough then. Better yet, find an alternative to it. I am sure there are a lot of food sources where we can get some calcium and proteins.
    Reply: #20
  20. Francois Melancon
    Actually, for osteoporosis, the problem is not lack of calcium: it's lack of vitamin D. Osteoporosis is most prevalent in the northern countries that have the highest consumption of calcium BUT the lowest consumption of vitamin D (cold weather, not enough vitamin D being made by the skin - and by the way, cholesterol is essential for your skin to make this vitamin D under the effect of the sun...
    Spplements of calcium have rather clearly been shown to increase the risk of heart disease (but not calcium in foods). As long as you have good intake of dark leafy vegetables (and/or full fat milk, which is not really necessary for calcium intake) AND a sufficient but not excessive amount of vitamin D, either through sun exposure or with a supllement during winter, you should be OK. And by the way, resistance exercise is an absolute necessity to prevent and even reverse osteoporosis (bodyweight will do just fine) to trick the body into thinking it is heavier than it really is and forcing it to fix calcium in the bones to support that "extra weight". Cardio does not work for this.
    How does low fat milk promote obesity? Too high in quick acting carbs and not filling enough. Insulin gets stimulated too much (fat storage) and appetite is not suppressed.
  21. Funderaren
    As a Scandinavian, milk products have been a way of life for several thousands of years. I see no reason to stop.

    But we can improve the actual quality of the products.

  22. Perfect, I'm going to go blame my parents right now!! No but really, I've enjoyed reading the other posters comments on the matter-- as it compelled me to do a bit of my own research!

    However, I just watched a strange video on youtube about a 12 year old girl who still feeds from her mother.. Not even kidding!

  23. Simone
    It's a shame that the obvious does not make it through to the policy makers about what the nation is eating these days.

    I remember seeing on Forks over Knives that T Colin Campbell mentioned that if you lower the fat content of dairy foods, you are raising the protein levels in the milk - which they believe make it more damaging for us.

    Until we break the association between losing fat and eating less fat then unfortunately the craze for low fat foods will continue.

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