Dairy shows different associations with abdominal and BMI-defined overweight: Cross-sectional analyses exploring a variety of dairy products


Background and aims:
Previous studies have suggested weight-regulatory properties for several dairy nutrients, but population-based studies on dairy and body weight are inconclusive. We explored cross-sectional associations between dairy consumption and indicators of overweight.

Methods and results:
We included 114,682 Dutch adults, aged ≥18 years. Dairy consumption was quantified by a food frequency questionnaire. Abdominal overweight was defined as waist circumference (WC) ≥88 cm (women) or ≥102 cm (men) (n = 37,391), overweight as BMI ≥25-30 kg/m2 (n = 44,772) and obesity as BMI ≥30 kg/m2 (n = 15,339). Associations were quantified by logistic (abdominal overweight, no/yes), multinomial logistic (BMI-defined overweight and obesity) and linear regression analyses (continuous measures of WC and BMI), and they were adjusted for relevant covariates. Total dairy showed a positive association with abdominal overweight (OR Q1 ref vs. Q5: 1.09; 95% CI: 1.04-1.14) and with BMI-defined overweight (OR Q5 1.13; 95% CI: 1.08-1.18) and obesity (OR Q5 1.09; 95% CI: 1.02-1.16). Skimmed, semi-skimmed and non-fermented dairy also showed positive associations with overweight categories. Full-fat dairy showed an inverse association with overweight and obesity (OR Q5 for obesity: 0.78; 95% CI: 0.73-0.83). Moreover, inverse associations were observed for yoghurt and custard and positive associations for milk, buttermilk, flavoured yoghurt drinks, cheese and cheese snacks. Fermented dairy, curd cheese and Dutch cheese did not show a consistent association with overweight categories.

Total, skimmed, semi-skimmed and non-fermented dairy; milk; buttermilk; flavoured yoghurt drinks; total cheese and cheese snacks showed a positive association with overweight categories, whereas full-fat dairy, custard and yoghurt showed an inverse association with overweight categories.

year of publication



  • Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases: NMCD


  • Brouwer-Brolsma, EM
  • Sluik, D
  • Singh-Povel, CM
  • Feskens, EJM

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