Milk pouring

Milk: It Still Does a Growing Body Good

In a recent study, children who regularly drank cow's milk were taller than peers who drank alternative beverages. Why might that be?


Put down the soy milk and get in line with tradition if you want taller kids, say the authors of a new study that examines the correlation between children’s height and milk consumption.

A total of 5,034 Canadian children aged between 2 and 6 years old were split into different groups: those who only drank cow milk, only alternative sources (like soy and almond milk), or a mix of the two.

According to the results, alternative milk kids were 0.4 cm shorter than their lactose-friendly peers. Children who consumed cow milk were 0.2 cm taller than the average for their age.

Three-year-olds showed an average height difference of 1.5 cm between the kids who drank three cups of cow milk a day and those that didn’t. Even mixing cow milk and alternative milk in a child’s diet was found to result in a shorter than average height.

The link between alternatives and shorter heights was not explored, but the authors noted that it is an area of interest for future study. Alternatives don’t contain as much protein or fats as cow milk does, so for now at least, that’s the hypothesis as to why these kids end up shorter.

“Perceived health benefits”

The authors believe that there has been an increase in children consuming alternatives recently because of the growing perception that alternatives are healthier.

In an era of gluten-free and organic diets, arguments about whether we as a species should be drinking the white stuff have become more prolific.

Advocates highlight all the nutritional value of milk, such as energy, protein, calcium, phosphate, B vitamins, amino acids and magnesium. Detractors usually express skepticism about humans consuming “calf growth liquid“, and that alternatives can provide sufficient amounts of protein and calcium without the hormones.

Theoretically yes, but the convenience and taste of milk make it a much more attractive all-in-one option. Moreover, getting kids to stick to a leafy green diet to maintain their nutritional intake is easier said than done.

Until further research can point out whether or not there are other factors at play when it comes to height, the classic remains king for claiming those inches.

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Barry is a journalist, editor, and marketer for several media outlets including HeadStuff, The Media Editor, and Buttonmasher Magazine. He earned his Master of the Arts in Journalism from Dublin City University in 2017 and moved to Toronto to pursue a career in the media. Barry is passionate about communicating and debating culture, science, and politics and their collective global impact.