Effects of dairy intake on body weight and fat: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Impact Factor: 6.77). 08/2012; 96(4):735-47. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.112.037119
Source: PubMed


Some intervention studies have suggested that dairy products may influence body weight, but the results remain controversial.
We identified and quantified the effects of dairy consumption on body weight and fat mass from randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
We conducted a comprehensive search of PubMed and EMBASE databases (to April 2012) of English reports of RCTs regarding dairy consumption on body weight, body fat, or body weight and body fat in adults. The results across studies were pooled by using a random-effects meta-analysis.
Twenty-nine RCTs were included with a total of 2101 participants. Overall, consumption of dairy products did not result in a significant reduction in weight (-0.14 kg; 95% CI: -0.66, 0.38 kg; I(2) = 86.3%). In subgroup analysis, consumption of dairy products reduced body weight in the context of energy restriction or short-term intervention (<1 y) trials but had the opposite effect in ad libitum dietary interventions or long-term trials (≥1 y). Twenty-two RCTs that reported results on body fat showed a modest reduction in the dairy group (-0.45 kg; 95% CI: -0.79, -0.11 kg; I(2) = 70.9%), and further stratified analysis indicated significant beneficial effects of dairy intervention on body fat in energy-restricted or short-term trials but not in long-term or ad libitum studies.
This meta-analysis does not support the beneficial effect of increasing dairy consumption on body weight and fat loss in long-term studies or studies without energy restriction. However, dairy products may have modest benefits in facilitating weight loss in short-term or energy-restricted RCTs.

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    • "The interest on their potential to influence energy balance was initially provided by population studies reporting a relationship between daily calcium/dairy intake and the reduction in the risk of becoming overweight (Mccarron et al. 1984; Zemel et al. 2000). These observations were subsequently reinforced by clinical trials demonstrating the reducing effect of milk/yogurt supplementations on body fat in the context of weight-loss programs (Zemel 2004; Zemel et al. 2005a, 2005b; Gilbert et al. 2011) and recently confirmed in a metaanalysis by Chen et al. (2012). Our clinical experience also agrees with these observations since calcium + vitamin D (Major et al. 2009) and milk (Gilbert et al. 2011) supplementations were found to accentuate body weight/fat loss in obese, female, low-calcium consumers while facilitating the control of energy/lipid intake and appetite. "
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    • "Several prospective studies have found an inverse relationship between dairy consumption and weight gain and abdominal obesity (Pereira and others 2002; Newby and others 2003; Lutsey and others 2008). In addition, 2 recent meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials found that increased dairy consumption resulted in greater fat mass loss and lean mass retention during short-term energy restriction (Abargouei and others 2012; Chen and others 2012). In addition, waist circumference (a marker of visceral adipose tissue and metabolic health risk) was decreased to a greater extent during energy restriction with higher dairy consumption (Abargouei and others 2012). "
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