With the increasing economic burden of obesity and related non-communicable diseases, the impact of food choices on weight management have taken centre stage. At the 12th European Nutrition Conference, international experts discussed how our liking for specific foods can be managed in the context of our diet and health. The Yogurt in Nutrition, Initiative for a Balanced Diet held a scientific symposium, chaired by Prof. Raanan Shamir (Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel) and Prof. Andrew Prentice (MRC International Nutrition Group, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK). The guest speakers reviewed the latest research on the role of yogurt in the nutritional quality of the diet, in maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, highlighting key differences between frequent yogurt consumers and non-or low-consumers.
Yogurt consumption may improve diet quality
As yogurt is considered to be part of a healthy diet, Prof. Angelo Tremblay (Department of Kinesiology, Laval University, Canada) evaluated the results of observational cohorts, conducted in North America, South America and Europe, which assessed the diet and health status of consumers. He concluded that yogurt consumption is associated with a healthy eating pattern and lifestyle:
- Frequent yogurt consumers have a greater intake in key nutrients such as minerals (calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc), vitamins (B2, B12, D) and protein, as well as a lower intake of total and saturated fat, compared to non-consumers. Yogurt nutrients may also benefit appetite control, by reducing hunger and making you feel fuller.
- Choosing yogurt could favor the replacement of higher energy dense foods.
- Weekly yogurt cosumption may significantly improve diet quality: Young yogurt consumers eat also more fruit, whole grains and milk, which suggest a better compliance with dietary guidelines.
- Yogurt consumers tend to have a Prudent dietary pattern, whereas non-consumers are prone to exhibit a Western pattern: Adult yogurt consumers may eat less fast food, French fries, processed and red meat, pizza and regular soft drinks.
Why choose yogurt for a healthy weight?
Dr. Richard Atkinson (Department of Pathology, Virginia Commonwealth University, US) induced the fact that yogurt could be considered as a daily partner for healthy weight management:
- Epidemiological studies have shown that regular yogurt consumers tend to have a lower body weight, a smaller waist, less weight gain and lower body fat over time, compared to those who eat little or no yogurt at all.
- People, who ate at least 7 servings of yogurt weekly, showed a 20% lower risk to become overweight or obese, in comparison with low-consumption (0-2 servings/week).
- The consumption of yogurt will not be a panacea for overweight or obesity, but the simple addition of yogurt to the daily diet may facilitate significant loss of body fat.
- Yogurt consumption is a relatively achievable and low-cost dietary change that could thereby help in reducing the impact of obesity and improve public health.
A lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
Prof. Jordi Salas-Salvadó (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Rovira i Virgili University, Spain) discussed the potential role of yogurt consumption in the prevention of type 2 diabetes (T2D):
- Dairy products, like yogurt, contain high-quality proteins, vitamins and minerals, which is suggested to have beneficial effects on the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Epidemiologic studies have demonstrated an inverse association between the frequency of yogurt consumption and the risk of developing diabetes, especially in young, middle-aged and elderly individuals.
- Yogurt may be protective against T2D in older adults at high cardiovascular risk, who are highly predisposed to develop this condition.
- A 17% lower risk of diabetes incidence has been observed among adults, who consume minimum 3 or more yogurt servings per week.
- Substituting 1 serving/day of a combination of high energy dense snacks for 1 yogurt serving/day is associated with a 40 % lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
A healthier lifestyle
Can yogurt consumption impact global healthy behaviours? According to Prof. Angelo Tremblay, yogurt consumption can be considered as the “signature of healthy diet and lifestyle”. Recent studies have shown that adult yogurt consumers are 40% more likely to be physically active (two or more hours per week) and are 30% less likely to smoke than non-yogurt consumers. People who eat yogurt four or more times per week also have better knowledge of the relationship between food and health and display feeding behaviours, more compatible with body weight stability.
Let’s look back at a successful YINI symposium with this comprehensive Storify. Find out more about a Q&A with the guest speakers, live Twitter activity, highlights and important learnings.