Everything You Know About Milk Is Still Wrong

Here, we pick up from the previous post discussing the virtues of whole milk versus low-fat or skim. House Bill HR832, “To amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to allow schools that participate in the school lunch program under such Act to serve whole milk,” was introduced over a year ago but has not even passed committee yet.

Whole-milk proponent Arden Tewksbury writes, “Our dairy farmers have been messed up long enough with this low-fat problem.” However… while the dairy farmers may be ours, so are our children. How good is the evidence for restoring whole milk to schools? Also, when it comes to deciding priorities, the reputation of Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is not unblemished.

Plenty of online comments address the matter. One says the National Academy of Pediatrics is partly funded by the National Milk Board, which seems in this context to be neither here nor there. A nurse practitioner says she’s never seen a fat child who got that way from full-fat dairy products. Blame should fall on juice and soda. Fat makes a person feel full for longer, so they eat more moderately and snack less.

Several citizens mention that pig farmers give pigs skimmed milk to fatten them — because it leaves them hungry, so they eat more, and become more desirable for the market. Some say the issue might be not fat or sugar, but hormones.

Enter the conspiracy

Others point back to the gigantic hoax perpetrated by the sugar industry six decades ago, blaming fat for every form of obesity when really the onus should fall on sugar.

Some mention a recent study determining that low fat milk has 2.5 times less vitamin D. But since Vitamin D is water soluble, that can be solved by adding Vitamin D powder to low-fat milk. (Readers will recall the previous post, which cited research pointing, confusingly, to the fat-solubility of that nutrient.)

A commentator called Jeff says,

Another possibility is that parents who give their children whole milk are also more likely to give them “whole” other foods like grains and fruits and vegetables… Whole grains and veggies have more fiber which in turn slows the absorption of sugars, which in turn lowers insulin levels which also reducing craving for more food.

Then, there is a very fresh report from Brigham Young University that concerns not obesity but another vital issue: aging, which is characterized by short telomeres, the structures on the ends of chromosomes. Long telomeres are the kind we want to have.

Larry Tucker, Ph.D., studied data on 5,834 adults and found that…

People who drink low-fat milk experience several years less biological aging. Drinking 1% rather than 2% milk accounts for 4.5 years of less aging in adults than those who drink high-fat (2% and whole) milk.

So, whole milk equals short telomeres — but, surprisingly, no milk also equals short telomeres. In this one respect at least, the sweet spot is right there in the middle, with low-fat milk. Professor Tucker says,

Milk is probably the most controversial food in our country. If someone asked me to put together a presentation on the value of drinking milk, I could put together a 1-hour presentation that would knock your socks off. You’d think, “Whoa, everybody should be drinking more milk.” If someone said do the opposite, I could also do that.

A person with the handle “AGoldstein” has perhaps the best take of all:

I don’t see why this information is worth sharing or even publishing until the authors get beyond the purely speculative stage in which they present their data. There are simply too many uncontrolled variables to act on information like this.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Childhood obesity has gotten worse since whole milk was taken out of schools,” PennLive.com, 02/13/20
Source: “Drinking 1% rather than 2% milk accounts for 4.5 years of less aging in adults,” ScienceDaily.com, 01/15/20
Image by fdecomite/Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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