EB 2013 Boston

Promising research presented on yogurt’s effects on weight management and chronic disease


There is a growing body of evidence linking yogurt consumption to improved health, and additional research to identify the scientific link between yogurt and potential health benefits, is underway scientists say. International nutrition experts gathered at the First Global Summit on the Health Effects of Yogurt in Boston on April 24, 2013 to present the current state of the science on the health effects of yogurt and identify research gaps that need to be addressed within the scientific community.

The First Global Summit on the Health Effects of Yogurt is part of the multi-year Yogurt in Nutrition Initiative (YINI), a global collaboration between the American Society for Nutrition, Danone Institute International and the Nutrition Society in the United Kingdom to evaluate the current evidence base on the nutritional impact of yogurt. Through annual scientific conferences and supporting activities, this initiative aims to stimulate new research and communicate available scientific information to health care professionals and the public.

At the summit, experts discussed the need for studies that examine the specific health attributes of yogurt, the optimal role of dairy foods in a healthy diet and the effect of yogurt on specific populations, such as the young and the elderly. The U.S.-based Dairy Research Institute also partnered in this inaugural summit.

Yogurt as a part of a healthy diet

Yogurt is an excellent source of protein and essential nutrients such as calcium, potassium and magnesium and also contains healthy bacteria (probiotics). The unique nutrient profile of yogurt has spurred research on its impact on a variety of topics such as bone and gut health, diabetes, body weight regulation, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Much of what is known about the potential health effects of yogurt has come from studies examining one’s overall consumption of dairy products, including milk and cheese. Fewer studies have focused on yogurt specifically.

Consumption of dairy products is associated with a reduced risk of developing some of the most prevalent and expensive diseases in modern society, including diabetes, hypertension and cancer.1,2,3 Intake of cultured milk and yogurt specifically has been linked to a reduced risk of developing bladder cancer3, a lower risk of heart attack and heart disease, and a decrease in blood pressure.4,5

Several studies have also shown that yogurt consumption could aid weight management. A prospective study on three cohorts involving more than 120,000 U.S. adults showed that consumption of yogurt, fruits, vegetables and whole grains were associated with less weight gain over time, with yogurt showing the greatest association.6 Another study showed that yogurt consumption is linked with smaller gains in weight and waist circumference over time.7

“Current research on the potential impact of yogurt on health is encouraging and we look forward to learning more about the unique contribution that yogurt offers to individuals and overall public health,” said Sharon M. Donovan, PhD, RD, Past President of the ASN and professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois. “Our goal in this initiative is to document what we know and what we do not know to guide future research efforts.”

“We are energized by the summit and look forward to fostering more dialogue and sharing new research at future scientific events,” said Prof. Raanan Shamir, MD, President of the Danone Institute International.

For more information, please visit www.nutrition.org/yogurt.

As part of the symposium, YINI’s Team have put two infographics with all you need to know about yogurt.

1Sluis I, et al. The amount and type of dairy product intake and incident type 2 diabetes: results from the EPIC-InterAct Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Aug; 9(2): 382-390.
2Alonso, A et al. Low-fat dairy consumption and reduced risk of hypertension: the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) cohort. Am J. Clin Nutr. 2005 Nov; 82(5):972-9.
3Larsson, S et al. Cultured milk, yogurt, and dairy intake in relation to bladder cancer risk in a prospective study of Swedish men and women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Oct; 88(4): 1083-1087.
4Wang H, Livingston K, Fox CS, Meigs J, Jacques PF. Yogurt consumption is associated with better diet quality and metabolic profile in American men and women. Nutr Res (2013)
5Patterson E, Larsson S, Wolk A, Akesson A. Association between dairy food consumption and risk of myocardial infarction in women differs by type of dairy food. J Nutr 2013;143:74–79.
6Mozaffarian et al, N Engl J Med 2011; 364:2392-2404
7Jacques PF, Wang H, Rogers GT, Fox CS, Meigs J. Yogurt Consumption Is Associated With Longitudinal Changes of Body Weight and Waist Circumference: the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) Ann Epidemiol 2012;22:673

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