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Doh! Low Fat Milk May Not Be As Healthy As We Thought, Says Harvard Expert

Published on July 8, 2013,

The media is covering a report from a Harvard University professor suggesting that replacing full fat milk for low fat milk may be contributing to rather than reducing the obesity epidemic in children. Doh! We should celebrate this news but is it not infuriating that fat has been so badly demonised for so long while health and government authorities have encouraged us to eat more and more sugar? I wonder how this obsession with low fat products in the face of so much evidence that it is misplaced will all be looked back on in a few years time? This is from Forbes…

English: milk bottle showing cream at the top

Milk bottle showing cream at the top (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Got milk? Well, you might not really need it, according to the current issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Pediatrics. Reduced-fat milk is high in sugar and may be contributing to the obesity epidemic, argues Harvard professor of pediatrics David Ludwig, MD.

One cup of 2-percent milk contains 12.3 grams of sugar, more than a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup and almost as much as a chocolate chip cookie. Consider that the recommendations for sugar intake call  for just 12 grams a day (three teaspoons, at 4 grams each) for children. So one serving of milk a day would put a child over the limit, two cups a day would top a woman’s limit of 5 teaspoons, and three cups a day would top a man’s limit of 8-9 teaspoons.

A glass of lowfat milk also provides 122 calories, which may not sound like that much, but by the time you’ve drunk your three servings that’s 366 calories that might be better used elsewhere.

In fact, Ludwig says, humans evolved on a diet free of milk, and milk consumption in general is nutritionally unnecessary, as a healthy diet can provide adequate calcium through beans, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and certain types of fish. (Of course, ask any parent; getting kids to eat greens, nuts and fish is another story.)

Recently revised guidelines from the USDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which call for three glasses of reduced-fat milk a day, should be reconsidered, the study argues. The guidelines were drafted with the intent to discourage the consumption of sugary beverages, with the exception of reduced fat milk. That exception may be misguided, opine the study’s authors, who also include noted Harvard nutritionist Walter Willett, MD.

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