The great dairy debate: should you buy full-fat or fat-free?

It’s been an issue of contention among health experts for years, with some saying full-fat dairy is the way to

It’s been an issue of contention among health experts for years, with some saying full-fat dairy is the way to go, while others swear by fat-free versions. Now, new research is aiming to settle the debate once and for all.

For years, many practitioners thought light and fat-free versions of dairy products were better for your health and your waistline.

The argument was that stripping the dairy of its fat content meant people got all of the nutrients from the dairy, like calcium and protein, and none of the fatty calories or diseases that come along with a high-fat diet.

Now though, after extensive testing and analysis, researches say people who eat full-fat dairy are no more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes than those who consume low-fat dairy products.

They also pointed out that when it comes to your waistline, full-fat dairy may actually be better for you. The research found that people who consumed full-fat products were slimmer than those on a fat-free diet.

Dr Mario Kratz, first author on the review, said that out of the 25 studies conducted by his team, 18 had “lower body weights, less weight gain, or a lower risk for obesity among full-fat dairy eaters”. The remaining seven studies were inconclusive.

“In terms of obesity, we found no support for the notion that low-fat dairy is healthier,” he said, as reported in Time.

“None of the research suggested low-fat dairy is better.”

One of the reasons why full-fat doesn’t make you fatter is because of the nutrients in it. Researchers say it doesn’t necessarily matter that full-fat dairy has higher calories because the nutrients in them keep you fuller for longer.

People who consume low-fat dairy tend to become hungrier faster and often reach for processed or sugary foods to satisfy their hunger. This means they end up consuming more calories overall, which leads to weight gain.

The researchers hope their findings will help people make healthier choices at the checkout and lead the call for shoppers to embrace full-cream products.

Do you buy full-cream or low-fat dairy? Will you change to full-cream in light of this research?

  1. We buy low fat because we prefer low fat milk in tea. No other reason so research findings will not change what we buy. So long as it is white and comes out of a cow. As a kid I would stand next to Dad as he milked the old house cow each morning, open my mouth and Dad would aim a teat at me and squirt. Didn’t give much thought about the pros and cons of cows milk; what came out of the udder was it. Simple.

    • Rod Faithfull. LOL, brings back memories. The cat, dogs and I would line up and my dad would squirt. The animals were really great at catching the milk. Me… most would end up all over my face and in my hair.

    • I buy from the Jersey dairy down the road, warm and yellow cream to the max. Yummm, raw milk is the best.

    • Jeanette Southam Yes, it is strange how farm kids who grew up on fresh milk with sometimes a tad of cow poo still grew up to be healthy.

    • Anne Mitchell, there is also another scientific fact on this, kids who grow up on farms are far less likely to get asthma.

  2. I have lite milk but sometime I wonder why we have dairy at all, we are consuming the milk from another animal. No I am anti dairy or anti cows , it just seems odd to me

  3. Your article says “The research found that people who consumed full-fat products were slimmer than those on a fat-free diet.” Maybe the reason for this is that these people don’t have an excess weight problem in the first place.

    • I agree Penny.
      I know that as soon as I stop eating full fat versions of food I start to lose weight.

    • Low full products have added sugar otherwise they would taste like cardboard. We have been brainwashed for years. It’s not the fat that’s the problem it’s the sugar! Fat feeds the body sugar feeds the cancer. Think about it, people are their heaviest and the unhealthiest they have ever been. Ok, we may live longer with drugs, that’s only quantity of time not quality time. I know which I would prefer.

    • If I eat low fat food i crave sugars. After us living with low fat diets for the last 40 years approx we are fatter than ever.

    • Yes Doreen you do lose weight by eating saturated fats and cutting out the sugars and lowering the carbs. People do have a hard time getting their head around this and after decades of poor science being accepted as fact I can understand why. The tide is turning though … slowly but surely we will see the turnaround to a healthier approach to food.

  4. Soy Milk for me, don’t consume much dairy these days don’t need it. Enjoy Almond milk in a smoothie.

    • Rosemary  

      Well said, Carolyn. This is a product which involves: forcably impregnating an animal, year after year, the removal and killing of the resultant baby and the eventual death of the mother when her milk supply lessens. All for a product designed for babies. It is time we gave it up.

  5. Yet another reversal of dietary wisdom 🙁 After watching Countdown to Life on ABC last night I wonder if I am overly efficient in my use of nutrients because of my mothers eating patterns during my time in utero 🙂 If you don’t know what I am talkng about then watch it on iview.

  6. I think all the don’t eat this or that is making us fat, I only consume about 1/2 a cup of milk a day, so if it’s low fat high fat or medium fat I can’t see how it can much affect on my weight.

    • I only drink milk FULL FAT have done all my life, up to 6litres a day and I only weigh 45kg, SO it don’t make you FAT and I am 60

  7. I grew up on cows milk straight from the cow to the home. The ” full cream” is nothing compared to what I know milk to be it’s rather tasteless on saying that you won’t find anything but full cream in my fridge. So if you visit it that or herbal tea

  8. Can’t have full fat myself as it makes me I’ll so grateful for the low fat in my coffee and tea. Sorry but can’t see how milking cows is cruel. They have to be milked or they are in agony. If they weren’t being used as dairy cows they would not exist. Is being milked worse than dead?

  9. There’s always “new research” to challenge last week’s “new research” which challenged last month’s ” new research” which challenged last year’s “new research” which … etc etc

    • Yes. … So much for research. … They change it every week. Enjoy what you like its all about moderation and common sense. …

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