Dairy products: a marker of quality of life?
Health-related quality of life (QOL) is a key aspect of physical, social, and mental well-being. Only a few population based-studies have noticed that lifestyle habits might influence health-related QOL in children and adolescents. For example, recently, a Canadian cross-sectional study of schoolchildren aged 10–11 years found that students with better diet quality and higher physical activity levels were significantly more likely to report better QOL scores (1). This is here the first study to investigate the relationship between habitual dairy consumption and health-related QOL in youth in the long term (2). The authors hypothesized that dairy consumption could be a marker of a more healthful diet and lifestyle in general, which in turn could positively influence health-related QOL in adolescents.
The Sidney Childhood Eye Study
Australian researchers followed 1.216 participants up over 5 years, from age 12 to 17 and coming from The Sydney Childhood Eye Study. Dairy consumption was assessed in 858 participants from a 120-item validated semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire (yogurt serving was 200 g). Health-related QOL was assessed by the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL). The PedsQL is a validated 23-item questionnaire for children aged 2 to 18 years , which yields 3 summary scores: a total scale score, a physical health summary score and a psychosocial health summary score. Potential confounders (like watching TV, body mass index, physical activity…) were also included in the study.
High yogurt consumption is linked to a healthy lifestyle pattern in boys
Nonsignificant associations were observed among girls,with total dairy intake and milk and cheese consumption. The situation is however quite different among adolescents boys, in which the findings are really interesting, especially for yogurt. The highest consumption of yogurt, from age 12 to 17, conducted to a higher overall quality and mental well-being score. In details, boys with the highest vs the lowest yogurt consumption had even higher scores, if they remained in the highest consumption of yogurt during adolescence from 12 to 17, but only for psychosocial health and school functioning scores.
Since the study was observational, a causal nature can’t be established. Some questions also remained, notably the mechanism of yogurt’s action in boys or why a significant association was not seen in girls. These findings require therefore further confirmation and clarification, but are quite promising.
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