Full-fat milk ‘protects against type-2 diabetes’

    8 April 2016

    People who drink full-fat rather than skimmed milk are significantly less likely to develop diabetes, a study has suggested.

    The researchers, from Tufts University in the US, looked at blood samples from over 3,000 participants, taken over a 15-year period, and found that people who drank whole milk were 46 per cent less likely to develop diabetes.

    The study, published in the journal Circulation, concluded that a combination of fatty acids found in dairy, as well as three biomarkers — plasmas 15:0 and 17:0, and trans-16:1 n-7 — were responsible for the lower prevalence of diabetes in those who consumed full-fat dairy.

    They also found that dairy (both low-fat and whole-fat) had no major effects on heart disease risk factors.

    Meanwhile, a separate study by researchers at Harvard University, Karolinska Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital aimed to establish the effects of dairy on obesity. They looked at data on 18,438 women, and found that over the course of 11 years, 8,238 of them had become obese — and that those who did were more likely to consume low-fat dairy products.

    Instant analysis
    Recent publications have suggested that there is a correlation between the consumption of full-fat dairy products and a decreased risk of type-2 diabetes.

    This prospective study looked at the development of diabetes in a group of people who were initially non-diabetics. A correlation was found between consumption of full-fat dairy products and a lower risk of diabetes, after accounting for other significant risk factors.

    Strengths of the study include its prospective nature, multilevel of biochemical monitoring and large sample size. The findings are also biochemically plausible.

    This finding is consistent with some studies but at odds with others — not surprising owing to the differences in methodology and confounding factors, including newly delineated influence of the gut biome on the risk of certain chronic diseases.

    Take-home message: there is a biologically plausible association between lowered risk of diabetes and consumption of high-fat dairy products.
    Research score: 4/5