Association of dairy products consumption with risk of obesity in children and adults: a meta-analysis of mainly cross-sectional studies

Ann Epidemiol. 2016 Dec;26(12):870-882.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2016.09.005. Epub 2016 Sep 22.


Purpose: The association of dairy products consumption with risk of obesity remains controversial. Therefore, we reviewed and quantitatively synthesized the evidence from observational studies with a meta-analysis.

Methods: A literature search was performed in relevant databases. Random-effects model was used to pool odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals. Dose-response relationship was assessed by restricted cubic spline model.

Results: Seventeen studies for total dairy products and 16 studies for milk with risk of obesity were eligible. The pooled odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) of obesity for the highest versus lowest category of total dairy products consumption were 0.54 (0.38-0.77) in children, 0.75 (0.69-0.81) in adults, and 0.74 (0.68-0.80) for both. Evidence of a nonlinear relationship was found (Pfor nonlinearity = .009). Milk consumption was also associated with risk of obesity [0.81 (0.75-0.88)] both in children [0.87 (0.80-0.95)] and in adults [0.77 (0.68-0.87)], and a linear relationship (Pfor nonlinearity = .598) suggested that risk of obesity decreased by 16% [0.84 (0.77-0.92)] for every 200 g/d increment of milk consumption.

Conclusions: This meta-analysis indicates that dairy products consumption may be associated with a decreased risk of obesity. This association may be of public health significance.

Keywords: Dairy; Dose–response meta-analysis; Milk; Nutrition; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dairy Products / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Risk Factors