Drinking Non-Cow Milk Linked To Shorter Children

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Drinking Non-Cow Milk Linked To Shorter Children
Photo – Couleur – pixabay.com

If you want your kids to be taller, make sure they are not drinking non-cow’s milk. Canadian researchers arrived at this conclusion, revealing that kids who consumed soy, almond, rice or other alternative milk products were shorter than their peers who favored cow’s milk. They published their findings in the April 12, 2017 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. [1]

The study observed 5,034 children in Canada, all from two to six years old. These kids were part of the Applied Research Group, which was a program initiated by St. Michael’s Hospital and The Hospital for Sick Children. The average age of the subjects was 38 months, with 51% being male. The participants were recruited from family and pediatric health-care practices between December 2008 and September 2005.

About five percent of the subjects drank exclusively non-cow’s milk while 84% consumed only cow’s milk. Eight percent and three percent of the subjects had both and drank neither, respectively. Outlined below are the results of the study:

• Children who had a cup of non-cow’s milk were 0.4 centimeters shorter than average for their age.

• Those who had a daily cup of cow’s milk were 0.2 centimeters taller than average.

• Kids who consumed three cups of non-cow’s milk and three cups of cow’s milk per day had a height difference of 1.5 centimeters.

• Those who drank a combination of cow’s milk and non-cow’s milk were shorter than average.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents not to give cow’s milk to their children under the age of one. [2] The organization issued the advisory due to non-cow’s milk lack of the many required nutrient for babies and the difficulty of digesting the milk’s protein and fat content. Cow’s milk is only beneficial for children over the age of one. They need the fat, protein, and calcium in the milk for their developing brain and bone health. [3]

Several studies have long posited the link between cow’s milk consumption in childhood and increased height. [4] The new study attributed the association between non-cow’s milk intake and shorter height to the lower levels of protein in non-cow’s milk.

According to one of the study authors, Dr. Jonathan Maguire, two cups of cow’s milk contain around 16 grams of protein which is sufficient for the daily protein recommendation of a three-year-old child. Meanwhile, two cups of almond milk only have four grams of protein.

Maguire criticizes the U.S. and Canadian governments for regulating the nutritional content of cow’s milk while that of most non-cow’s milk is not. [5] The amount of protein and fat in non-cow’s milk products vary due to the lack of regulation, he adds. Maguire advises parents to be vigilant when buying products that are being marketed as being equivalent to cow’s milk. He stresses the need to know if the products offer the same in terms of their effect on children’s growth.

The study raised some eyebrows from those who are involved in the ongoing debate about the benefits of cow’s milk versus dairy alternatives. Professor Amy Joy Lanou of the University of North Carolina-Asheville told CNN why the study only focused on milk consumption. She believes that the overall diets of the children should also have been part of the study. She lambasted the study for making an improper conclusion that taller means healthier. [6]

For Dr. Frances Cheng, a science advisor for PETA, the cross-sectional study is limited that it is hard to draw meaningful conclusions from it. She noted the failure of the study to track what the children ate or drank apart from milk, supporting Lanou’s argument.


[1] Morency M-E et al. June 7, 2017. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Association between noncow milk beverage consumption and childhood height. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/106/2/597/4557638

[2] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health. Cow’s milk – infants. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002448.htm

[3] Anna Haug. September 25, 2007. Lipids in Health and Disease. Bovine milk in human nutrition – a review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2039733/

[4] Tomoo Okada. October 2004. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Effect of cow milk consumption on longitudinal height gain in children. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/80/4/1088/4690374

[5] Infant Formula: Evaluating the Safety of New Ingredients. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on the Evaluation of the Addition of Ingredients New to Infant Formula. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2004. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK215837/

[6] Wayne Drash. June 7, 2017. Drinking non-cow milk linked to shorter kids, study suggests. http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/07/health/milk-children-height-study/index.html

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1 Comment

  • By Daniel Kluth, November 14, 2017 @ 11:57 pm

    I don’t want to be tall. I’m actually short according to the average male. The dairy industry must have a problem with short people huh? LIKE IT’S A BAD THING! At least I’m not so tall I bump my head on door frames, and the shower head isn’t too short for me either. Even if I can’t reach things without a little extra effort, it’s not that bad. Fuck the dairy industry and their height standard like it has something to do with your health. Wait until they get osteoporosis and die of a heart attack early in life. Even if dairy made you taller, I still wouldn’t drink that shit.

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