Dietitian Clears Up Argument Against Skim Milk

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Mom always told us to drink our milk. As we got older, many of us started thinking about our waist line and switched to skim.

Time published a story this week, which is confusing all the people who thought low-fat milk was the way to go. The research cast doubts on whether skim's really best.

Sarah Davis, a clinical dietician with Unity Point Des Moines, came to the rescue on the April 10 segment of the Insiders to give us the skinny on skim.

Davis explained that Time is referring to a 17-year study with lots of participants. They were looking at cancer and the connection between overweight and obesity. The food information they looked at was dairy consumption and how much weight gained among the participants.

The surprising results showed that people who drank milk gained less weight than those who drank skim over the 17-year period.

“What’s confusing for people is that once you look at the study and the weight gain, the people in it and how much they’re drinking, it becomes less true that this  the weight gain and people in it, it becomes less clear that this is really true,” Davis said.

When it comes to children and milk, she said stick to what you probably already know. Children are ideally breastfed until 6 months to 1 year old. Davis said children between 1 and 2 years old should drink whole milk since they need the extra fat and calories for brain and bone development.

After age 2, parents can switch their kids to 2 percent, 1 percent or even skim.

“It depends on the population that needs the higher fat. If you have a child that isn’t gaining weight very well, the higher fat intake is going to be better for them. If you have a child that’s overweight who do not need those extra calories, skim milk may be a better choice,” Davis said.

Based on personal experience, Davis has advice for people trying to lose or maintain weight.

When she shed pounds, she lost triple digits.

“My dietician story is that I lost quite a bit of weight on my own, and it involved skim milk,” she said. “It was overall calorie intake that I needed to change, the quality of my diet.”

And here’s where milk fits into the equation.

“If you’re drinking whole milk and you have weight to lose, try at least going down to 1 percent. I know there’s a lot of people who have trouble getting to skim because they think it tastes like water,” Davis said.

As far as added sugars are concerned, Davis said that only pertains to flavored milk like chocolate milk. The sugar that occurs in skim milk is natural.

She said skim milk has enough nutrients from Vitamin A, Vitamin D, potassium and calcium that we want to include it in our diet.

Watch the entire Insiders segment above for Davis’ advice on getting kids to drink the best kind of milk and how to limit their sugar consumption.

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About the Insiders
The Insiders with Dave Price features in-depth conversations with top politicians, decision makers and influencers from Iowa and across the country. It's Iowa’s Sunday morning tradition that provides unique insight into what's happening, and it's the show that holds elected officials accountable.

Catch the Insiders Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on Channel 13.