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Matto: Headlines on Recent Study Are ‘Overly Simplistic’

Nov 05, 2014

In today’s DairyLine broadcast to producers this week, Michelle Matto, IDFA’s nutrition and labeling consultant, discussed a recent study making headlines that call into question the benefits of milk for stronger bones and fewer fractures. She said the headlines and news reports are based on an overly simplistic reading of the study recently published in the British Medical Journal.

"You’ve probably read a lot of headlines recently, calling into question the benefits of milk for stronger bones and fewer fractures. These are based on a recently published study that looks at the diets and health of Swedish men and women. However, these headlines and the accompanying news articles are based on an overly simplistic reading of the actual study that was published in the British Medical Journal.

"The research suggests there is a relationship between higher milk consumption – meaning more than three glasses per day – and higher mortality in men and women, and higher disease risk and hip fracture in women. It compared people with higher milk consumption to those who consumed just one glass of milk per day.

"But the design of this study can only identify associations between diet and health outcomes; it cannot demonstrate cause and effect. There is also the possibility of other factors that may have affected the health of the study participants. These limitations were actually identified by the study authors themselves, noting these findings should be “interpreted cautiously.”

"This is only one study. It is important to remember that there are also many studies that show that milk and dairy products help support strong bones. Healthy diets and nutrition recommendations should be based on the full body of evidence, not a single study.

"At this time, there is no need to change nutrition recommendations based on a single research study. There are hundreds of studies supporting the role of milk in a healthy diet. Again, this is just one study, and this type of research can only show a potential association, not a cause. The National Osteoporosis Foundation, American Academy of Pediatrics and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans all support milk’s role in a healthy diet – for bone health and beyond.

"I hope you will be able to share this information with your family, friends and neighbors, who might be a little concerned about what this study means for milk."

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