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Recent research findings from Wales indicate that increased intake of milk and other dairy products may reduce metabolic syndrome and should be recommended as part of a healthy eating pattern.  Peter Elwood and colleagues from Cardiff University studied the diet and incidence of metabolic syndrome among 2375 men, and found that men who drank milk and ate dairy products regularly were 62 per cent less likely to have the syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a condition characterized by central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism. The syndrome has been linked to increased risks of both type-2 diabetes and CVD. Fifteen per cent of adult Europeans are estimated to be affected by MetS, while about 32 per cent in USA are affected.

The Caerphilly Prospective Study assessed dietary intakes of the men (age range 45-59) using a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire at baseline, while a sub-sample of 603 men kept a seven-day weighed dietary intake record.  The subjects had two or more markers for MetS, from high blood glucose, insulin, blood fats, body fat, and blood pressure.

After 20 years of follow-up the researchers calculated that the 15 per cent of men with MetS at the start of the study were at almost double the risk of coronary artery heart disease and four times the risk of diabetes of those without the syndrome.  But those who regularly drank milk and ate dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese, were significantly less likely to have the syndrome. Indeed, Elwood and co-workers report that a daily pint of milk was associated with a 62 per cent risk reduction, while regularly intake of other dairy produce reduced the risk by 56 per cent.

Dairy products are part of a healthy diet and their consumption should be promoted, they conclude

Source: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Vol 61, Pages 695-698 "Milk and dairy consumption, diabetes and the metabolic syndrome: the Caerphilly prospective study" Auhors: P.C. Elwood, J.E. Pickering, A.M. Fehily

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