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Higher dairy intake can help fight obesity

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New Curtin University of Technology research has shown that a higher intake of dairy products while on a reduced calorie diet can help fight obesity.

Benefits include greater weight loss and significant improvements in the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

As part of her PhD research, Dr Wendy Chan She Ping Delfos, from Curtin’s School of Public Health, compared three serves of dairy with five serves of dairy within a reduced calorie diet prescribed to overweight participants over a 12-week weight loss trial.

The study found that participants who consumed five serves of dairy as opposed to three serves of dairy had:

  • higher mean levels of weight loss;
  • higher mean levels of fat mass loss;
  • greater drop of systolic blood pressure; and
  • greater total percentage abdominal fat loss.

“Many people commonly believe that when trying to lose weight dairy products are key foods that they have to cut out of their diet as they are high in fat,” Dr Chan She Ping Delfos said.

“This study has shown that when trying to lose weight people can actually benefit by increasing the amount of dairy they consume beyond the normally recommended three daily serves as long as during the weight loss period total energy intake is less than their requirements.

“Increasing dairy intake to five serves per day as part of a reduced calorie diet has never been studied before, and such diets containing high levels of protein, calcium and vitamin D, among other bioactive nutrients, can be an important part of a prudent weight loss or weight maintenance diet.”

Dr Chan She Ping Delfos, who worked with Curtin’s Associate Professor Mario Soares on the project, also examined the effect of resistance exercise in combination with a high dairy, reduced calorie diet.

“Participants who had five serves of dairy and engaged in resistance exercise had similar health benefits to participants consuming five serves of dairy only,” she said.

“However, the participants who engaged in resistance exercise did show significantly less muscle loss during the weight loss trial and had a higher fasting fat oxidation rate (burning of fat) during the trial.

“The group of participants engaging in resistance exercise also had a lower percentage of total fat regain at a follow-up visit 12 weeks after the initial trial.

“Based on these results, we can conclude that the addition of resistance exercise to a high-dairy, reduced calorie diet can be better for longer-term weight maintenance.”

The dairy products consumed by the participants in this study consisted of cheese, yoghurt and low fat milk.

The study tailored the intake of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in each volunteer and monitored the change in weight, body fat, glucose levels and other cardiovascular risk factors.

The study was funded by the ATN Centre for Metabolic Fitness and Diabetes Australia.

Dr Chan She-Ping Delfos was the recipient of a Curtin University Postgraduate Scholarship award for her PhD thesis.
Contact: Dr Wendy Chan She Ping Delfos; School of Public Health; Curtin; 08 9266 9212; OR Ann Marie Lim; Public Relations; Curtin; 08 9266 4241; 0401 103 532;

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