The importance of dairy has gained little publicity which has led to many Australian’s not reaching their daily nutritional needs. Dairy is particularly important for children as it contains calcium and vitamin D which is essential for bone health, growth and development. Inadequate calcium intake in childhood has been related to low bone mineral density and a possible determinant of overweight and obesity.
Currently 25% of Australian children are categorized as overweight or obese which is of great concern as this considerably increases the future risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, hypertension and many forms of cancer.
Research found through a comprehensive literature review revealed a positive relationship between high daily dairy intake and low body mass index (BMI). Other results include;
1. Major determinants of dairy intake were physical activity, parental attitudes, location/accessibility and lifestyle choices.
2. Adequate dairy consumption reduces the risk of fracture and increases Bone Mineral Content (BMC) by 5.6%.
3. One additional serving of dairy per day was associated with a decrease in iliac skin fold thickness of 0.78mm.
Therefore, diets such as the Paleo diet which exclude dairy completely are not suitable for children. It is essential for children to consume adequate amounts of dairy for bone health, growth and weight management.