Higher Longitudinal Milk Intakes Are Associated with Increased Height in a Birth Cohort Followed for 17 Years

J Nutr. 2018 Jul 1;148(7):1144-1149. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxy071.


Background: Height is an indicator of nutritional status; linear growth faltering has recognized consequences for cognitive, emotional, and chronic disease risk. Although height is routinely studied in developing countries, less attention is given to height in the United States.

Objective: The objective of this study was to identify longitudinal associations between childhood and adolescent beverage intakes, nutrient adequacy, or energy intake and height in a birth cohort.

Methods: Data for participants through ages 2-17 y (n = 717; 353 males, 364 females) recruited at birth for the longitudinal Iowa Fluoride Study (IFS) were used in the current cohort analyses. Beverage intakes (n = 708) were collected by beverage-frequency questionnaires at 3- to 6-mo intervals, whereas nutrient data (n = 652) were obtained from 3-d food diaries completed at 3- to 6-mo intervals through age 8.5 y and from Block Kids' food-frequency questionnaires at 2-y intervals after age 8.5 y. Nutrient adequacy ratios were calculated with the use of age- and sex-specific Estimated Average Requirements. Height was measured at clinic visits when the participants were approximately ages 5, 9, 11, 13, 15, and 17 y. Linear mixed models were used to identify longitudinal associations between dietary variables and height. A baseline model that adjusted for changing growth patterns during adolescence was established. Dietary and potential confounding variables were added to this baseline model.

Results: Milk intake adjusted for mean adequacy ratio, energy intake, and baseline socioeconomic status was associated with height; for each additional 8 ounces (236 mL) of milk consumed per day throughout childhood and adolescence, height increased, on average, by 0.39 cm (95% CI: 0.18, 0.60 cm; P < 0.001).

Conclusions: IFS participants' height increased by 0.39 cm for each additional 8 ounces (236 mL) of milk consumed throughout childhood and adolescence. The clinical implications of the mild linear growth faltering observed in healthy youth are unknown. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as 199112665.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Body Height*
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet
  • Diet Records
  • Diet Surveys*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Milk*