Aug. 13 2011 06:00 AM

Elevated levels of dairy product consumption during teen years has life-long benefits

Dairy product consumption in adults has been associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes (T2D). Tracing this trend back, researchers set out to evaluate the relationship between dairy product consumption during adolescence and risk of Type 2 diabetes in adulthood.

Scientists from Harvard School of Public Health examined the relationship between 37,038 women's high school dairy food consumption and the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes during their adult years.

They found women who had a high intake of dairy foods in their midteens had a 38 percent lower risk of developing T2D in middle age than those who had a low intake of dairy foods.

The positive effect of dairy foods was carried over for women who maintained the high dairy intake as adults. Women who consumed the highest quantity of dairy as a teenager and during middle age had a 43 per cent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than those who consistently had a low dairy intake.

The beneficial effects of dairy may be mediated by the effect of dairy intake on disease precursors, including body weight, hypertension, and the individuals ability to maintain glucose levels.

These findings follow two additional studies (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition) that show eating the recommended three servings a day of dairy improves metabolic health and reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes if persistent consumption is maintained.