The importance of milk and other animal-source foods for children in low-income countries

Food Nutr Bull. 2011 Sep;32(3):227-43. doi: 10.1177/156482651103200307.


Background: Milk and other animal-source foods are concentrated dietary sources of macro- and micronutrients. Despite a global increase in milk production and consumption over the past decades, milk and other animal-source foods are often lacking in the diets of children in developing countries.

Objective: To evaluate the importance of milk and other animal-source food intake in promoting the growth, development, and health of children in low-income countries.

Methods: Original research articles describing observational and intervention studies with unfortified milk, fortified milk, and other animal-source foods in children were identified by searching the PubMed database.

Results: Consumption of milk and other animal-source foods by undernourished children improves anthropometric indices and cognitive function and reduces the prevalence of biochemical and functional nutritional deficiencies, reducing morbidity and mortality. Unfortified and fortified milk used in supplementation trials has been well tolerated and widely accepted by parents and children.

Conclusions: To improve the dietary quality of children in low-income countries and further the effort to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger in accordance with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, additional research is necessary to identify and implement programs and policy supporting increased intake of milk and other animal-source foods.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries*
  • Diet*
  • Fishes
  • Food Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Food, Fortified / analysis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology
  • Malnutrition / prevention & control
  • Meat*
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Micronutrients / deficiency
  • Milk*
  • Poverty
  • Prevalence


  • Micronutrients