Childhood milk consumption is associated with better physical performance in old age

Age Ageing. 2012 Nov;41(6):776-84. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afs052. Epub 2012 Apr 26.


Background: studies have shown that milk and dairy consumption in adulthood have beneficial effects on health.

Methods: we examined the impact of childhood and adult diet on physical performance at age 63-86 years. The Boyd Orr cohort (n = 405) is a 65-year prospective study of children who took part in a 1930's survey; the Caerphilly Prospective Study (CaPS; n = 1,195) provides data from mid-life to old age. We hypothesised that higher intakes of childhood and adult milk, calcium, protein, fat and energy would be associated with a better performance.

Results: in fully adjusted models, a standard deviation (SD) increase in natural log-transformed childhood milk intake was associated with 5% faster walking times from the get-up and go test in Boyd Orr (95% CI: 1 to 9) and 25% lower odds of poor balance (OR: 0.75; 0.55 to 1.02). Childhood calcium intake was positively associated with walking times (4% faster per SD; 0 to 8) and a higher protein intake was associated with lower odds of poor balance (OR: 0.71; 0.54 to 0.92). In adulthood, protein intake was positively associated with walking times (2% faster per SD; 1 to 3; Boyd Orr and CaPS pooled data).

Conclusion: this is the first study to show positive associations of childhood milk intake with physical performance in old age.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dairy Products*
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Milk*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United Kingdom
  • Walking / physiology


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Dietary Proteins