Whole milk may be the better option when giving children the dairy drink, researchers suggest.
In a viewpoint published on July 1 in JAMA Pediatrics, Dr. David S. Ludwig, an endocrinologist at Boston Children's Hospital, and Dr. Walter C. Willet, Fredrick John Stare professor of epidemiology and nutrition chair at the Harvard School of Public Health in Cambridge, Mass., questioned why low-fat milk was given the OK over the whole milk option.
"There's never been such a strong evidence base for these recommendations," Ludwig told the Boston Globe. "We're not arguing that milk should be eliminated from the diet, but that a broader range of recommendations might be more appropriate."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that children 2 to 3 years old get two cups of dairy a day, 4 to 8 year olds get 2.5 cups and those 9 and up get three cups. They advocate for fat-free or low-fat milk, not whole milk.
Milk contains valuable nutrients including calcium, potassium and vitamin D, which helps the body balance levels of calcium and phosphorous for stronger bones. The USDA said that milk and other dairy products have been known to improve bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It's especially important to drink and eat dairy at a young age when bones are forming. In addition, dairy has been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as blood pressure in adults.