Childhood obesity is associated with a greater chance of a lifetime of obesity. Evidence suggests dairy at recommended levels could be beneficial in maintaining normal weight and body composition. We assessed whether dairy consumption is associated with anthropometric indicators of health (z-scores for weight-for-age (WAZ); height-for-age (HAZ) and body mass index (BMIZ); waist-to-height ratio (WHtR); fat-free mass (FFM); and fat mass (FM)) in adolescents. In a cross-sectional study, 536 males and females ages 12-18 completed a 151-item semi-quantitative web-based food frequency questionnaire that included 34 dairy-containing foods. Dairy foods were categorized into milk, cheese, sweetened dairy, and total dairy. Anthropometrics were measured during school visits. Total dairy intake was associated with WAZ (β = 0.25 (95% CI: 0.01, 0.49), p = 0.045) and HAZ (β = 0.28 (95% CI: 0.04, 0.52), p = 0.021). In boys, total dairy was associated with WHtR (β = 0.02 (95% CI: 0.00, 0.04), p = 0.039), FFM (β = 4.83 (95% CI: 1.79, 7.87), p = 0.002), and FM (β = 3.89 (95% CI: 0.58, 7.21), p = 0.021), and cheese was associated with FFM (β = 4.22 (95% CI: 0.98, 7.47), p = 0.011). Dairy consumption seems to influence growth in both genders, and body composition and central obesity in boys. Prospective studies are needed to identify how types of dairy relate to growth, body composition, and central obesity of adolescents.
Keywords: BMI z-score; adolescents; anthropometric; dairy; milk; waist to height ratio.