May 26/Sydney, Australia/European Journal of Pediatrics -- A new study published in the European Journal of Pediatrics found teenage girls who drink milk are more likely to carry less body fat and have a lower body mass index (BMI).

The research recently published in the European Journal of Pediatrics involved 1001 teenage boys and girls aged 15-18 years. Researchers measured weight and height (BMI) and body fat percentage, and gathered data on milk and dairy consumption. They found the girls who were consuming more milk were more likely to have a lower BMI and a lower percentage of body fat.

The results included consumption of both regular and low-fat milk.

While the same results were not seen in boys, dairy food consumption overall did not increase their risk of being overweight. The researchers suggested important nutrients found in milk such as calcium and protein may be responsible for the positive results.

Dairy Australia dietitian Glenys Zucco said the calcium found in milk may help prevent fat being stored in the body and milk’s unique whey protein levels is thought to suppress appetite. However, many Australian teenage girls are missing out on milk’s benefits. The last National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey found only 14% of girls aged 14-16 years consumed the recommended three servings of dairy per day, and only 58% consumed any milk on the day of the survey.

“Girls preoccupied with body shape might be more likely to exclude calcium-rich milk and dairy foods such as yogurt and cheese, which they perceive as fattening,” Zucco said. “Unfortunately, many teenage girls are already watching their weight, and some cut out important food groups such as dairy unnecessarily. “Teenagers need three to four serves of dairy foods each day to meet their recommended intake of calcium.” Zucco said there were a wide range of dairy products available for teenagers to enjoy, such as flavored milk which contains the same 10 essential nutrients as white milk.

 From the May 29, 2012, Prepared Foods’ Daily News