Analysing the nutritional value of milk for young children
In 2015, Nestlé Nutrition UK&I commissioned a study comparing the quality of diet depending on the main milk consumed by young children in the UK aged between 12 and 18 months (whole cow’s milk or fortified milk).
The study analysed data from the UK Diet and Nutrition Survey of Infants and Young Children (DNSIYC) (1) undertaken in 2011, which is a survey of 2,683 UK infants and young children aged 4–18 months. Results from the survey suggest that diet quality changes after 12 months of age, with a decline in consumption of micronutrient-fortified foods and milks, and an increase in consumption of foods high in energy, and in fat, sugar and salt (2).
The analysis showed that each type of milk has different nutritional benefits, and that young children consuming fortified milk were more likely to meet their needs for iron and vitamin D. The average intake of iron, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin D was significantly higher for those infants drinking fortified milk. In contrast, the average daily intake of energy, protein, calcium, iodine, sodium and saturated fat were significantly higher in the cow’s milk group. The children consuming fortified milk also had improved iron and vitamin D status.
The findings show that whole cow’s milk is a healthy, nutrient-rich food for young children. However, fortified milk can be a beneficial alternative, providing key micronutrients without raising protein and energy intakes excessively(3).