Three cups of milk a day? That may be too many

Federal dietary guidelines recommending that Americans of all ages consume three cups per day of reduced fat milk or other dairy products may be influenced more by lobbying from the dairy industry than by scientific evidence, according to a new commentary co-authored by Walter Willett, Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. He and co-author David Ludwig of Boston Children’s Hospital argue that a broader range of recommendations for milk consumption may be more appropriate.

The commentary was published online July 1, 2013 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Adults who eat a healthy diet may already be getting sufficient vitamin D and bone-building calcium from other sources such as kale or fortified orange juice, according to the researchers. Children may need the recommended daily glasses of milk if they have poor diets; however whether they should be drinking whole or skim milk is up for debate.

While federal guidelines call for fat-free or reduced fat milk to protect against obesity, the researchers counter that it may have the opposite effect. Fats are digested slowly, leaving people fuller for longer. Reducing dietary fat may prompt some to eat more in order to feel satiated, they write.

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