Yogurt lowered obesity risk; fruit, Mediterranean diet may boost effect

Increased yogurt consumption could reduce the risk for obesity and may be even more effective when combined with a Mediterranean diet or high fruit consumption, according to research presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Sofia, Bulgaria.

In the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) cohort study in Spain, Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, MD, PhD, of the University of Navarra and CIBER-OBN, Carlos III Institute of Health, followed 8,516 adults who were not obese for an average of 6.6 years to determine the effect of yogurt consumption on weight gain.

Men and women (mean age, 37.1 years) provided information on yogurt consumption at baseline, then completed questionnaires every 2 years; criteria included high consumption of at least one serving/day or low consumption of two servings or less per week of total, whole-fat and low-fat yogurt.

At follow up, the researchers identified 1,860 incident cases of overweight/obesity. Participants with high consumption of total (HR=0.88; 95% CI, 0.78-0.99) and whole-fat (HR=0.81; 95% CI, 0.71-0.93) yogurt had a lower risk for becoming overweight or obese.

Those with high consumption of total yogurt had a 12% reduced risk vs. those with low consumption. Those with high consumption of whole-fat yogurt had a 19% reduced risk vs. low consumption. No significant differences, however, were seen with low-fat yogurt.

“The observation that low-fat yogurt consumption was not associated with a reduced risk can be attributed to either the high sugar content of low-fat yogurt, or to reverse causality, meaning that people with a higher tendency to develop obesity may preferentially select low-fat yogurt,” Martinez-Gonzalez said in a press release.

Similar associations were seen for those with high consumption of total (HR=0.75; 95% CI, 0.61-0.91) and whole-fat (HR=0.64; 95% CI, 0.5-0.83) yogurt who also adhered to a Mediterranean diet.

High total yogurt with high Mediterranean diet consumption lowered the risk for becoming overweight or obese by 25% vs. low consumption of both; high whole-fat yogurt with high Mediterranean diet consumption reduced the risk by 36% vs. low consumption in both.

Findings held steady for participants with high total and low-fat yogurt consumption with a diet high in fruit. High total yogurt with high fruit consumption reduced participants’ risk for becoming overweight or obese by 21% vs. low consumption of both (HR=0.79; 0.66-0.94); high total intake of whole fat yogurt reduced the risk by 22% vs. low consumption of both (HR=0.78; 0.62-0.97).

For more information:
Martinez-Gonzalez M. Presented at: 21st European Congress on Obesity; May 28-31, 2014; Sofia, Bulgaria.

Disclosure: The SUN project was funded by the official agency for funding biomedical research of the Spanish Government (Instituto de Salud Carlos III). This particular analysis received additional financial support from Danone Nutricia Research.