Goodbye, whole milk

A new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, published in July 2008, calls for almost all children to consume low-fat rather than whole milk to reduce their long-term risk of cardiovascular disease.

Reduced-fat milk is preferred for all children starting at age 2. For babies younger than this, starting at age 1 year reduced-fat milk should be used if there are any risk factors: obesity or risk for obesity, or a strong family history of heart disease or increased cholesterol. Since just about every child growing up in the developed world is at risk for obesity, the guideline seems to apply to just about everyone.

The guideline doesn’t distinguish between low fat (2%), skim (0%), or other varieties of reduced-fat milk. I have been advocating skim milk for all children starting at age 2, and will now also suggest low fat (2%) milk starting at age 1 for all babies. The only exception would be in children who are truly underweight, who could benefit from the extra calories of whole milk.

The policy statement also covers new information about screening for cardiovascular risk by measuring cholesterol in children starting at age 2 who are at risk. You’ll be hearing more about this soon as these guidelines are distributed and discussed, but you heard it here first!

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2 Comments on “Goodbye, whole milk”

  1. KM Says:

    My child is turning one next week and planning to start milk. Are you still suggesting 2% milk for one year olds instead of whole milk? My child is in the average percentiles, but we do have family history of heart disease. Thanks for the information.

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  2. Dr. Roy Says:

    I’m not seeing any attention to this new guideline, or the science behind it, in any of the usual parenting magazines, newspapers, etc. Apparently this is not going to cross the radar. But the recommendations are solid, make sense, and are backed up by good science. There’s no reason for most babies to be on whole milk. 2% is fine once weaned from formula or breast milk at age 12 months. The only reason to continue higher-fat milk is if you’re concerned that your child isn’t getting enough calories– but believe me, there is very little under nutrition in the United States. Far, far more kids are getting too many calories than too few.

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