Is dairy consumption associated with low cardiovascular disease risk in European adolescents? Results from the HELENA Study

Pediatr Obes. 2014 Oct;9(5):401-10. doi: 10.1111/j.2047-6310.2013.00187.x. Epub 2013 Jul 15.


Objective: To identify those food groups best discriminating individuals at high/low cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and to investigate the relationship between dairy consumption and CVD risk factors (individual and scores) in adolescents (12.5-17.5 years) from eight European cities participating in the cross-sectional (2006-2007) HELENA (Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence) project.

Methods: Diet, waist circumference, skin-folds thickness, systolic blood pressure, insulin resistance, triglycerides, total cholesterol/high-density lipoprotein ratio and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) were assessed in 511 (49.9% boys) adolescents. Individual z-scores of CVD risk factors were summed to compute sex-specific clustered CVD risk scores.

Results: Dairy emerged as the food group best discriminating adolescents at low/high CVD risk. In both genders, waist circumference and sum of skin-folds were inversely associated with consumption of milk and yogurt, and milk- and yogurt-based beverages, whereas a positive association was observed with CRF. Moreover, CVD risk score (β = -0.230, P = 0.001) was also inversely associated with overall dairy consumption only in girls.

Discussion: Dairy consumption is associated with lower adiposity and higher CRF in these adolescents. An inverse association between CVD risk score and dairy consumption is also depicted in girls. The study adds further evidence to the scarce literature on the influence of milk and dairy products on adolescents' cardiovascular health.

Keywords: Adolescents; body fat; cardiovascular disease risk; dairy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dairy Products*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Waist Circumference


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides