The myth that dairy leads to weight gain has been shut down by health professionals and industry.
Nutrition and Dietetics manager Susan Baudinette said dairy was integral to good health.
The South West Healthcare practitioner responded to a CSIRO study that reported a significant number of adults were avoiding dairy due to the dieting misconception.
The study conducted 27 trials highlighting the effect of dairy consumption on weight, body fat mass and lean muscle mass in adults.
Those who consumed more dairy were found to retain 75 per cent more muscle compared to those who consumed less.
Dr Baudinette said some calorie-controlled dieters were advised to minimise their dairy intake because of the fat content in some products.
“The fat in milk is negated by low-fat options,” Dr Baudinette said.
“Low-fat dairy is recommended for everyone over the age of two… as we get older we need more.”
She said the protein in milk helped to control appetite and the desire to fill up on unhealthy foods.
“You can include the recommended serves of dairy and still manage weight,” she said.
“Weight loss is about eating healthy and overall we need to restrict total energy intake… with a mix of nutrients from wholefoods (from all food groups).”
Dr Baudinette said the calcium, protein and vitamins found in milk could not all be replaced by supplements and were necessary when maintaining a balanced diet. She added that lactose free and soy alternatives needed to be “calcium fortified”.
She said the nutrients in cheeses, milk and yogurt not only contributed to bone health but also to blood pressure management and weight control, fat absorption, muscle growth and food cravings.
Dairy Australia also highlighted concerns that Australians weren’t receiving the recommended dairy intake with adults aged 19 to 50 years consuming far less than the advised 2.5 serves of dairy foods each day.
Communications manager Emma Glassenbury said consuming dairy foods as part of a calorie-restricted diet, could lead to greater weight and fat loss, compared to a controlled diet.
“Adding an extra serve of dairy every day won’t hinder weight loss and can even contribute to weight management,” she said.