Thrasher Research Fund - Medical research grants to improve the lives of children

Project Details

E.W. "Al" Thrasher

Status: Funded - Open

Effects of Whole vs. Non-fat Milk Consumption on Body Composition in Children: a 1-Year RCT

Cara Ebbeling, PhD


BACKGROUND: Childhood obesity is a multisystem disease causing numerous co-morbidities – with major consequences to quality of life and medical costs. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of childhood obesity are rising even faster than pre-pandemic. GAP: Advice to consume 3 servings/d of reduced-fat milk has been one of the most consistent and heavily promoted dietary recommendations to children throughout the last half century. This advice has been questioned in light of recent observational studies showing that consumption of whole (full-fat), compared to reduced-fat milk, is associated with less weight gain and decreased risk for chronic diseases. However, the effects of consuming whole vs. reduced fat milk has not been tested in high-quality randomized controlled trials, in an era when childhood obesity is so highly prevalent. HYPOTHESIS: We hypothesize that consuming whole milk will result in less weight gain, and decrease risk for diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, compared to consuming nonfat milk. METHODS: We will enroll 200 children aged 9 to 12 years, with or at risk for obesity (BMI≥85th percentile). Each child will be randomly assigned for 1 year to receive home delivery of: 1) Whole milk, 3 cups/d or 2) Nonfat milk, 3 cups/d. RESULTS: Pending. IMPACT: Results will have public health relevance regardless of direction of outcome, either supporting the current dietary recommendation for milk consumption or suggesting a need for reconsideration. Website Link:

Supervising Institution:
Boston Children's Hospital

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