Can Lactose Make You Gain Weight?
It is clear that the substitution of whole milk products for their semi-skimmed or skimmed version results in obtaining all the nutritional benefits of these products without the excessive contribution of saturated fatty acids.
Consumption of dairy products, in the context of a well-balanced diet, with an adequate energy intake, has shown not to contribute clearly to the development of overweight and obesity.
The well-known and widely discussed international problem around the issue of overweight and obesity has forced the scientific community to explore at all levels -epidemiological, clinical, and molecular- the explanations about its etiology and the prophylactic and therapeutic options for its attention. The importance of this health issue is only given by its high and increasing incidence and prevalence, but also by the severity of the comorbidities that accompany it.
Undoubtedly, the mainly related to overweight and obesity factors are those of a nutritional nature, for which associations have been identified both at the level of nutrients and food, as well as patterns of eating and eating behaviors and clearly, the development of a disease as complex as obesity cannot be explained only by high or insufficient consumption of a nutrient or a food. However, some have been identified with an important power of association, so they have merited attention to investigate. Among them are dairy products, and in particular milk, both for its energy intake and its content of calcium, protein and lipids that can modify its etiopathogenesis.
Milk and dairy products in general have been included in the food guides of many countries. In these guides, dairy products are considered important foods in all stages of life, from early childhood to old age, for providing essential nutrients such as proteins of good quality, lipids, minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, selenium and calcium; and vitamins such as riboflavin, pantothenic acid, cobalamin and vitamins A and D (as a result of its addition to milk). The recommendations for dairy consumption in the international food guides consider one to three servings of milk or yogurt or up to 120 g cheese a day.
Association between Dairy Consumption and Overweight and Obesity
There is abundant literature that explores in dairy consumers the presence and incidence of obesity, as well as the conditions related to it, such as hypertension, dyslipidemia and diabetes. In general terms, it has been established that there is a protective effect of dairy products in these diseases, and this is established by various organizations stance documents.
It has been postulated that the protective effect of dairy products on obesity could be related to the following mechanisms:
- Satiety promotion in the short and medium term due to the high protein content.
- Reduction of lipogenesis (formation of fatty acids) and promotion of calcium-mediated lipolysis (breakdown of fats and other lipids by hydrolysis to release fatty acids) via production of UCP2 in adipose tissue and UCP3 in skeletal muscle.
- Calcium interference in the intestinal absorption of lipids: calcium binds to bile acids and/or forms insoluble soaps that increase the fecal elimination of fats.
- Effect of conjugated linoleic acid, which mostly comes from dairy products in the diet and promotes satiety and greater use of lipids.
The current evidence does not show clear findings in the same sense about association between dairy consumption and overweight and obesity. More frequently, non-association results or even as a protective factor are reported, however there is no uniformity in the analysis of the type of dairy consumed -in the case of non-fat or dairy products- nor of confounding factors related to the total context of the diet or the individual.
About studies that show the dairy consumption as a risk factor it can be considered two main aspects: a) the risk identified by dairy consumption not always, although more frequently, is identified specifically for the consumption of whole milk products; b) in most cases it is estimated that the risk associated with dairy consumption is explained by its contribution to the total energy intake when it is excessive.
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