DENVER (CBS4) – A new study suggests that young children who drink non-dairy alternatives to cow’s milk may lose a little bit of height compared to other kids.
The study followed close to 5,000 children, ages 2-6, and was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The research found that by age 3, those kids who drank soy, almond, or other alternatives to cow’s milk were on average about ½ inch shorter.
That may not seem like much, but at age 3, but one-half inch is a rather significant amount.
It is not clear whether this height difference continues into adolescent, teen, or adult years. However, the researchers of this study believe that height at this age is a good indicator of overall health and nutrition.
It is not clear why the non-dairy alternatives may have an effect on height. There was no direct cause and effect seen, and you have to wonder if other dietary factors may have played a role.
Nonetheless, this study suggests that the non-dairy alternatives may be significant because they tend to contain less protein, less fat (which is actually more important and necessary in childhood compared to adulthood), as well as the thinking that the calcium in these products is not absorbed as well as the calcium found in true dairy.
Now does this mean that parents should avoid nondairy at all costs?
Yet, it’s very important to be a good label reader and make sure that a child overall is getting adequate protein, fat, and other important nutrients. And certainly, if your child is on the short end of the growth stick and you are using non-dairy alternatives, perhaps this is a study to talk to your doctor about.