Milk and dairy consumption is positively associated with height in adolescents: results from the Israeli National Youth Health and Nutrition Survey

Chen Dor, Aliza Hannah Stark, Rita Dichtiar, Lital Keinan-Boker, Tal Shimony, Tali Sinai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Milk consumption is associated with increased height primarily in early childhood. However, in adolescents, data are scarce with inconsistent results. Since height is a proxy for overall health and well-being, this study evaluated the association of dairy intake with height in adolescents. Methods: Students in 7th–12th grades, participating in the 2015–2016 Israeli Health and Nutrition Youth Survey, a school-based cross-sectional study, completed self-administered questionnaires, including a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (n = 3529, 48% males, 15.2 ± 1.6 years). Anthropometric measurements were also performed. Dairy servings were calculated as the calcium equivalent of 1 cup of milk, and consumption was divided into four categories from very low (< 1 serving/day) to high (3 + servings/day). BMI- and Height-for-age z scores (HAZs) were calculated according to WHO growth standard; relatively short stature (RSS) was defined as HAZ < − 0.7 SD (< 25th percentile). Multivariable linear and logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate the association of dairy intake with HAZ and prevalence of RSS, respectively. Results: Median consumption of dairy products was 2 servings/day, 1.4 from unsweetened products (milk, cheese and yogurt). Controlling for age, sex, BMI-z-score and socioeconomic status, each increment of unsweetened dairy intake was associated with on average 0.04 higher HAZ (equivalent to 0.3–0.4 cm, p < 0.05), and with reduced risk for RSS: OR 0.90, 95%CI: 0.84, 0.97, p < 0.01. No such associations were found with sweetened dairy products. Conclusion: Consumption of unsweetened dairy products (3–4 servings/day) appears to contribute to achieving growth potential in adolescents. Intervention studies are necessary to determine the causal relationship between dairy intake and linear growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-438
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Ms. Maya Ben-Lassan for her assistance with figure graphics. We would also like to acknowledge the diligent work of our study staff that collected data at schools across the country.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Adolescents
  • Dairy
  • Israel
  • Linear growth
  • Short stature
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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