May 6/Adelaide, Australia/University of South Australia -- Low-fat dairy is a good option for parents who want to reduce their children’s saturated fat intakes, but it will not help children lose weight or fat, according to a new study from University of South Australia (Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 May;93(5):1117-27).

Researchers Gilly A. Hendrie and Rebecca K. Golley conducted a 24-week cluster, randomized, controlled trial with 93 families with children 4-13 years old. The families were randomly allocated to parental education regarding changing to reduced-fat dairy foods (n = 76 children) or reducing screen time (n = 69 children). Study outcomes, which were measured at baseline, 12 weeks (which was the end of the intervention) and 24 weeks, included saturated fat, caloric and nutrient intakes; and blood lipid concentrations; body mass index (BMI); and waist circumference.


Children in both groups ate roughly the same amount of dairy; (about 50g/d). Children’s whose parents were educated on saturated fat intakes had 3.3 percentage points lower (P<0.0001) saturated fat intake at 24 weeks than in the comparison group. Concentrations of a specific saturated fat, pentadecanoic acid, were lower after 12 weeks (0.03%; P = 0.012), but not after 24 weeks. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentrations were not different after 12 weeks, but were 0.15mmol/L lower in the intervention group after 24  weeks than in the comparison group (P = 0.037). There were no significant group differences in total caloric intake or adiposity measures. Regular-fat dairy foods decreased from 88% to 14% of dairy intake in the intervention group. Calcium, magnesium and carbohydrate (percentage of energy) intakes were higher in the intervention group than in the comparison group; retinol intakes were lower in the intervention group than in the comparison group; and overall vitamin A intakes were similar between groups.

Hendrie and Golley concluded, “Advice to parents to change to reduced-fat products was effective in reducing children's saturated fat intakes, but did not alter energy intakes or measures of adiposity."


From the May 9, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.