Milk can save children from obesity, diabetes

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A pint of milk a day could protect obese children from developing diabetes, according to new research. Cow’s milk contains nutrients that lower insulin, the hormone that controls glucose, between meals, the study showed. This reduces the risk of ‘metabolic syndrome’ – a cluster of disorders including high blood pressure, high blood sugar and fats, excess belly fat and low ‘good’ cholesterol. Having any three can lead to diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The team found overweight and obese youngsters who had at least two half-pint servings of cow’s milk were less prone to type 2 diabetes – the form linked to being overweight. Children who drank less than half a pint a day had significantly higher levels of ‘fasting’ insulin – the level between meals – than those who drank at least a pint.
Dr Michael Yafi, of the University of Texas Health Science Center, said: ‘Our findings indicate obese children who consume at least the daily recommended amount of milk may have more favorable sugar handling and this could help guard against metabolic syndrome. ‘Worryingly, only one in ten young people in our study were consuming the recommended amount of milk.’ One in three American children are overweight or obese – which is equivalent to about 24 million. In the UK, four in 10 children aged five to 19 are obese or overweight, amounting to more than 4.5 million.
The World Health Organization has described it as a ‘crisis’ in child health leading to heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Dr Yafi and colleagues analysed the daily milk intake of 353 obese children aged three to 18 over a two-year period between December 2008 and December 2010. On average, just a tenth of the children with an average age of 11 reported drinking the daily recommended milk intake of one-and-a-half pints or more. Girls drank less milk than boys, but no difference in intake was noted by ethnicity.
The study presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna found fasting insulin levels were about 50 percent lower among children who drank at least a pint of milk a day – a sign of good health. This was after taking into account other factors including race, ethnicity, gender and level of physical activity. Consumption of sugary drinks and fruit juices – along with their glucose levels. insulin sensitivity and the type of milk drank based on fat content – were also considered. More than half of children who reported drinking less than half-a-pint a day had high insulin levels – compared to about a quarter of those drinking at least a pint.

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