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Examining the nutritional needs of children & adolescents – Dairy protein and body composition

CHRISTOPHER J. CIFELLI, JEFFREY J. ZACHWIEJA*

*Corresponding author
Dairy Research Institute®, 10255 West Higgins Rd, Suite 900, Rosemont, IL, 60018-5616, USA

Abstract

Preventing unhealthy weight gain during childhood and throughout adolescence may represent the best approach to preventing an increase or reducing the prevalence of obesity in the future. Therefore, it is important to establish good eating habits in children and adolescents. However, there is little consensus on how best to accomplish this important task as dietary recommendations can conflict one another. For example, some diet plans vilify high intakes of fat while others recommend drastically reducing carbohydrate consumption. This type of mixed messaging can be frustrating to consumers. Protein, and in particular dairy protein, can increase satiety, help maintain lean body mass, and contribute to improved body composition in adults. Increasing protein intake early in life may contribute to the prevention of the childhood obesity epidemic; however additional research is needed to better understand the amount of protein needed to elicit long-term weight control and health benefits.


INTRODUCTION

Despite concerted efforts from health professionals and nutritionists, obesity continues to be a serious health concern for children and adolescents. The most recent data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicates that 31.7 percent of children and adolescents were overweight, with approximately 17 percent of them being classified as obese (1). If the current trends continue, the prevalence of obesity in children and adolescents will nearly double by 2030, when approximately 29.7 and 31.0 percent of children and adolescents will be obese, respectively (2). Obese children and adolescents have a greater risk of becoming obese adults (3, 4). More alarming is the fact that childhood obesity increases the risk for many debilitating health conditions, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes (5). Accordingly, preventing unhealthy weight gain during childhood and throughout adolescence may represent the most desirable approach to preventing an increase in or reducing the prevalence of obesity in the future. It’s widely recommended that physical activity and a healthy diet are essential for achieving this go ...




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