Youngsters at risk of obesity can look forward to a healthier future if they eat yogurt every day, this article suggests. That’s because a daily pot of yogurt may help improve their levels of insulin– the hormone that controls blood sugar – and the body’s response to insulin, the authors say.
The rising tide of obesity among our children and young adults is alarming because of the suite of health problems associated with it – including diabetes and even early death. Helping our young folk to maintain a healthy body weight is a ‘no-brainer’– but how best to go about it?
Genetics, lack of physical activity and unhealthy food choices all contribute to obesity among children and young adults. Yogurt has been identified as a marker of a healthy diet and lifestyle in adults. The authors of this article wanted to find out whether young people who eat yogurt are healthier and less likely to be overweight/obese than those who don’t, and whether any potential benefits are greater in those with a family history of obesity.
The authors examined data for 198 children and young adults who took part in a Canadian study. They were separated into two groups depending on whether they had an obese parent or not. Youngsters with an obese parent were more likely to be overweight themselves than those with healthy-weight parents.
‘…children with an obese parent are more likely to have a weight problem in adulthood.’ – Panahi et al, 2019.
Do dairy foods help control body weight?
Studies in children and adults have shown that people who consume more milk and dairy products are less likely to be overweight. Most of these studies have looked at dairy consumption overall. What might we find if we looked at individual dairy products such as yogurt?
This study found that yogurt consumption was not linked to overweight/obesity in children and young adults.
Yogurt consumption may benefit insulin levels in youngsters at risk of obesity
Diabetes develops if the pancreas makes the wrong amount of insulin or the body’s response to insulin is inadequate.
In this study, blood insulin levels and a measure of the body’s response to insulin suggested that youngsters with an obese parent controlled blood sugar less effectively than youngsters with normal-weight parents. They also had unhealthier fats in their blood and higher blood pressure.
Eating at least one serving of yogurt daily may have a beneficial effect on insulin in young people at risk of obesity, the authors say. Yogurt eaters with an obese parent had similar insulin levels and response to insulin to youngsters with normal-weight parents regardless of their yogurt consumption.
Further research is needed to explain how yogurt might exert insulin-related benefits in young people at risk of obesity, say the authors.
Is obesity down to our genes?
Although many genes have been linked to childhood obesity, this study did not look at gene differences. This means that it can’t explain the association between parent and child overweight/obesity. Genes may be at least partly responsible, but parenting and environmental factors may also be involved, say the authors. We should perhaps not be surprised if parents’ eating habits and lifestyle influence their children.
‘These results suggest that although genetics is implicated in the risk for obesity and insulin resistance, yogurt consumption may help to lessen the effects of genetic susceptibility on glycemic variables.’ – Panahi et al, 2019.