A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition examined if milk was best to help an individual grow taller.
Measures such as weight and height can be an indicator of one’s overall health status. For example, everyone has an expected adult height, but it can be influenced by nutrition, and not attaining an expected height can be indicative of malnutrition or disease.
Researchers in the United States noted that weight is a big research focus when it comes to nutrition and illness, but height is not given the same attention. In a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers used longitudinal data to determine how beverages influence an individual’s ability to grow taller than expected.
The beverage study
In the Iowa Fluoride Study and Iowa Bone Development Study, parents of the participants were required to complete food diaries every 3 to 6 months. These food diaries were completed until the child was eight and half years old where they then completed food frequency questionnaires every two years to track nutrient consumption. For beverages, the parents only completed weekly questionnaires.
Beverage categories included water, sugar-free beverages, sugar-sweetened beverages, milk, and 100% fruit juice. Children’s height measurements were collected at five years followed by every two years from 9 to 17 years old.
Diary data showed that as the participants grew in age, they consumed more water, sugar-free beverages, and sugar-sweetened drinks, but less 100% fruit juice. Milk consumption was fairly consistent throughout the years. Milk consumption was the only beverage associated with height when taking into account socioeconomic status, age, sex, the quality of the participants’ diets, and overall energy intake. Daily intake of 8 ounces and 16 ounces of milk from childhood through adulthood corresponded to a height 0.39 cm and 0.78 cm above their projected heights, respectively.
Milk does the body good
In regards to specific nutrients, the nutrient adequacy ratio (NAR) compares how much of a nutrient one consumes to how much one should be consuming for their sex and age. Researchers found the NAR for calcium had a significant association with height which verified a strong correlation between milk consumption and calcium.
Despite the study consisting primarily of white individuals, and the possibility of inaccurate data due to food and beverage intake being self-reported, the study shows milk, specifically calcium, promotes healthy growth, helping an individual grow taller.
- Marshall, T.A., Curtis, A.M., Cavanaugh, J.E., Warren, J.J., and Levy, S.M. (2018). Higher Longitudinal Milk Intakes Are Associated with Increased Height in a Birth Cohort Followed for 17 Years. The Journal of Nutrition, 148(7), 1144-1149. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxy071