Dairy Products and Cardiometabolic Health: Findings from a Dose-Response Meta-Analysis

A recent dose-response meta-analysis investigated the role of dairy products in reducing the risk of certain cardiometabolic conditions. The findings of this study are indicative of a beneficial relationship between the consumption of dairy products and the risk of overweight/obesity, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension.

Assortiment de produits laitiers

There is accumulating research in recent years on the relationship between dairy and cardiometabolic health outcomes. A 2022 meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies investigated the association between dairy and overweight/obesity, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension in adult populations (≥ 18 years). 

This meta-analysis combined a total of 42 articles (52 studies), including 1,212,693 participants, and featured the following dairy categories: total dairy, low-fat dairy, high-fat dairy, fermented dairy, cheese, yogurt, and milk. A dose-response analysis was used to explore the relationship between dairy product intake and health outcomes of interest. The authors assessed study quality using the NUtrition QUality Evaluation Strengthening Tools (NUQUEST), which is recommended by Health Canada to assess quality and risk of bias in nutrition studies. Results of this assessment indicated good quality results with a high credibility.

Overall, the results of this meta-analysis underscore the beneficial role of dairy intake on overweight/obesity, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension:

  • Total dairy, high-fat dairy, and milk were linked to a linear, dose-response decrease in the risk of overweight/obesity of 25%, 7%, and 12% for every additional 200 g/d, respectively, while yogurt decreased risk by 13% for every additional 50 g/d. No association was detected between low-fat dairy and risk of overweight/obesity;
  • Reductions in risk of type 2 diabetes were observed for total dairy (3% per 200 g/d) and yogurt intake (7% per 50 g/d). However, no associations were observed between type 2 diabetes risk and either milk or low-fat dairy intake;
  • Low-fat dairy and milk were linked to a 6% reduction of risk of hypertension for every 200 g/d, whereas high-fat dairy was not associated with hypertension;
  • The consumption of cheese (per 10 g/d) had a neutral association with risk for all cardiometabolic outcomes. 

Additional subgroup analyses for age, sex, country, follow-up period, and other confounding factors (alcohol consumption, smoking, total energy intake, physical exercise, BMI) were consistent with the main results.

The authors attribute their findings, which highlight the potential benefits of these foods on cardiometabolic health, to the unique nutritional profile of dairy. Specifically, they note that nutrients found in dairy products such as whey protein, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin D have been shown to contribute to the prevention of glucose accumulation, excess weight gain, and hypertension. As this study examined a wide range of dairy products using a dose-response analysis, it adds to the robust body of evidence on the potential role of dairy in reducing cardiometabolic disease risk.

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