Children who often consume yogurt may have a healthier diet and better metabolic profiles than those who don’t eat yogurt, this study suggests. Including yogurt in children’s diet may prove to be a great way to boost their intake of certain key nutrients, particularly calcium, magnesium, iodine and riboflavin, say the authors.
Yogurt consumption has previously been associated with higher nutrient intakes and improved diet quality and metabolic profiles in adults, but few studies so far have looked at these associations in children.
This study analysed data from the UK’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey and included 1687 children across two age groups, 4-10 years and 11-18 years. The children’s yogurt consumption was assessed using a diet diary over 4 consecutive days. Their diet quality was calculated using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) 2010, and their metabolic profiles were measured through several variables.
Yogurt seems to be more popular for younger children than for teenagers
Results revealed that younger children are more likely to eat yogurt than teenagers. Hence 62% of the 4-10 year-olds and 31% of the 11-18 year-olds were yogurt consumers as shown by their 4 days of diet recording. These children were divided into groups according to how much yogurt they ate. Children were defined as non-consumers if they did not eat any yogurt during the 4 days or diary-keeping.
Yogurt consumption was associated with improved nutrient intake and adequacy
Children who ate the most yogurt (mean 98g yogurt/day for 4-10 year olds and 105 g/day for 11-18 year olds) had higher intakes of several nutrients – particularly calcium, iodine and riboflavin – than those who did not eat yogurt.
Compared with the non-consumers, fewer of the highest yogurt consumers had diets that fell short of the lower recommended nutrient intakes (LRNI) for a wide range of nutrients, including riboflavin, calcium, iodine and potassium. There were also more shortfalls among non-consumers than highest consumers for vitamin A, zinc, vitamin B12 and vitamin C.
As yogurt is a rich source of several of these nutrients, it is likely that the higher consumption of yogurt contributed to these increased nutrient intakes and adequacy, say the authors. The findings may also be due to these children having a better overall diet quality than non-consumers, as was demonstrated by the HEI 2010 scores.
Yogurt consumption was associated with a better diet quality
In this study, children aged 4-10 years who were high yogurt consumers ate less fat, processed meat, cakes and pastries and more fish, biscuits and high-fibre breakfast cereals compared with non-consumers of yogurt. In the older age group, highest yogurt consumption was associated with diets containing less processed meat and white bread than non-yogurt-consumers, and more high-fibre bread and cereals, fish, fruit and vegetables.
Yogurt consumption was associated with an improved metabolic profile
The 4-10 year-old children who consumed the most yogurt had lower pulse pressure than their non-consumer counterparts. Among the older children, the highest yogurt consumers had lower concentrations of HbA1c (glycated haemoglobin, an indicator of blood glucose levels over the previous 2-3 months) than the non-consumers and were also shorter with a smaller hip circumference than non-consumers. This is in line with previous research which has also shown that yogurt consumption is associated with lower fasting insulin concentrations.
Although the children eating the most yogurt had higher intake of total energy and sugar, they also did not differ from non-consumers in body weight or body mass index. However, the authors were not able to control for physical activity in this study.
Further research is needed into the effects of yogurt consumption on cardiometabolic health, the authors conclude.
Find out more: read the original article