Low-fat milk promotes obesity

 The process of making low-fat milk also strips away nutrients. So the nutrition is scant, and the sugar level is high.

The process of making low-fat milk also strips away nutrients. So the nutrition is scant, and the sugar level is high.

by Mary Budinger — 

Harvard researcher David Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., analyzed a recommendation from the USDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics to drink three cups of reduced-fat milk per day. He concluded that it is very bad advice.

“It is perhaps the most prevailing advice given to the American public about diet in the last half century,” Ludwig said. “As a result, Americans are consuming billions of gallons of milk a year, presumably under the assumption that their bones would crumble without them.”

But very little research has actually been done to determine whether or not low-fat milk helps with weight loss. In fact, a rapidly growing mountain of research reveals that reduced-fat foods contribute to weight gain because they do not make us feel full. Reduced-fat foods have what researchers call a lower satiety value and that causes us to want to eat more to feel full.

Many schools offer sugar-sweetened milk to achieve the recommended levels of total milk consumption in children.

“The worst possible situation is reduced-fat chocolate milk. You take out the fat and it is less tasty,” Ludwig explained. “So to get kids to drink three cups a day, you get this sugar-sweetened beverage.”

One cup of 2-percent milk contains more sugar that a Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cup. The process of skimming away the fat in milk has the negative effect of speeding up the body’s absorption of sugar. The process of making low-fat milk also strips away nutrients. So the nutrition is scant, and the sugar level is high.

Do we need milk for calcium? No, says Ludwig. “We can get plenty of calcium from a whole range of foods. On a gram-for-gram basis, cooked kale has more calcium than milk. Sardines, nuts, seeds, beans and green leafy vegetables are all sources of calcium.”

We would be better off with whole (4 percent) milk because of its higher fat value and its ability to make us feel full. But what of the saturated fat contained in it? Ludwig points out that compared to carbs, “Saturated fat increases cardio-protective, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.”

Despite the clever ads featuring celebrity milk mustaches, drinking low-fat milk every day, especially the sugar-added kind, promotes obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Sources: Ludwig DS, Willett WC. “Three Daily Servings of Reduced-Fat Milk: An Evidence-based Recommendation?” JAMA Pediatr. 2013:1-2.

 

Mary Budinger is an Emmy award-winning journalist who writes about integrative medicine.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 32, Number 4, August/September 2013.

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