Study reveals “critical insights” to increase milk consumption among children
Milk consumption among children has been declining for decades, which could have long-term implications for health, according to the study authors.
After noting a decline, scientists from North Carolina State University and Cornell University have studied key contributors to increasing milk consumption among children. Understanding and fulfilling the needs of children is crucial to reverse the decline, the scientists said.
Fluid milk consumption among children is vital, they added, as adequate consumption of dairy products, especially during childhood, is said to have beneficial health outcomes later in life. They noted that these benefits include reduced risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, obesity, and cancer in adulthood.
Factors evaluated in the study included food trends, nutritional and school meal programme requirements, children’s perceptions and preferences, and environmental influences. Among these influences, flavour and habit were the primary drivers for long-term consumption.
Intrinsic factors ranged in influence over milk preference in the examination, showing that flavouring, heat treatment, and sweeteners positively correlated with higher consumption. Extrinsic factors, such as social influence (peers, parents or caregivers, and school staff), packaging, and health benefits, all affected children’s attitudes toward milk as well.
“Making milk more appealing to children, having schools include milk in their meal plans, and increasing the types of milk available in schools are all positive options to encourage children consume fluid milk and receive those health benefits,” said senior author MaryAnne Drake, PhD, Department of Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Sciences, North Carolina State University. “The findings in this study, however, reveal critical insights that will aid in efforts to increase milk consumption among children.”
Understanding how to create milk products that are appealing to children without compromising the health benefits and taking note of the various factors that influence a child’s choice are necessary to encourage and increase lifelong consumption, the scientists concluded.