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Effects of dairy intake on weight maintenance

Michael B Zemel1*, Joseph E Donnelly2, Bryan K Smith2, Debra K Sullivan3, Joanna Richards1, Danielle Morgan-Hanusa1, Matthew S Mayo3, Xiaocun Sun1, Galen Cook-Wiens3, Bruce W Bailey4, Emily L Van Walleghen2 and Richard A Washburn2

Author affiliations

1 The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA

2 University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA

3 University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City, KS, USA

4 University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA, USA

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Citation and License

Nutrition & Metabolism 2008, 5:28  doi:10.1186/1743-7075-5-28

Published: 24 October 2008



To compare the effects of low versus recommended levels of dairy intake on weight maintenance and body composition subsequent to weight loss.

Design and Methods

Two site (University of Kansas-KU; University of Tennessee-UT), 9 month, randomized trial. Weight loss was baseline to 3 months, weight maintenance was 4 to 9 months. Participants were maintained randomly assigned to low dairy (< 1 dairy serving/d) or recommended dairy (> 3 servings/d) diets for the maintenance phase. Three hundred thirty eight men and women, age: 40.3 ± 7.0 years and BMI: 34.5 ± 3.1, were randomized; Change in weight and body composition (total fat, trunk fat) from 4 to 9 months were the primary outcomes. Blood chemistry, blood pressure, resting metabolism, and respiratory quotient were secondary outcomes. Energy intake, calcium intake, dairy intake, and physical activity were measured as process evaluation.


During weight maintenance, there were no overall significant differences for weight or body composition between the low and recommended dairy groups. A significant site interaction occurred with the low dairy group at KU maintaining weight and body composition and the low dairy group at UT increasing weight and body fat. The recommended dairy group exhibited reductions in plasma 1,25-(OH)2-D while no change was observed in the low dairy group. No other differences were found for blood chemistry, blood pressure or physical activity between low and recommended dairy groups. The recommended dairy group showed significantly greater energy intake and lower respiratory quotient compared to the low dairy group.


Weight maintenance was similar for low and recommended dairy groups. The recommended dairy group exhibited evidence of greater fat oxidation and was able to consume greater energy without greater weight gain compared to the low dairy group. Recommended levels of dairy products may be used during weight maintenance without contributing to weight gain compared to diets low in dairy products.

Trial Registration NCT00686426