Which Are Better: Full-Fat or Low-Fat Dairy Products?

February 12, 2020
Full-fat dairy products, unlike low-fat ones, are healthier than you may think. They don’t make you gain weight and improve your health.

For years, it’s been said that low-fat dairy products were better because full-fat ones made people gain weight and caused cardiovascular disease due to the fat they contained. However, more and more studies refute this fact. In this article, we’ll explain whether full-fat or low-fat dairy products are better.

Full-fat or low-fat dairy products?

Full-fat products have always had a bad name in the general population due to:

  • Calories. Full-fat milk products contain more calories than low-fat ones, since fat is the macronutrient that provides more calories. It’s easy to remove the fat from dairy products. Thus, it seems logical that, since they contain fewer calories, they represent a lower risk of obesity.
  • Saturated fats. Saturated fats have always been known as “bad” fats because they can cause diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, eliminating them is an added advantage.

However, when you cut out fat from your diet, you cut out many of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, and E), as well as many minerals.

Some vitamins.

You have to read: The Benefits and Risks of Drinking Milk

Experts have conducted numerous studies to check whether full-fat products make people gain weight or improve overall health. Here, we’ll show you different studies:

Weight and milk

A study published in The American Journal of Nutrition, observed weight differences among those who consumed full-fat or low-fat products. The results were that the group that consumed full-fat products had an 8% reduced risk of being overweight or obese.

This article states that a high intake of fat from dairy products is associated with a lower risk of central obesity and cardiovascular risk, in the same way that a low intake of fats from dairy products was associated with an increased risk of central obesity.

Health and dairy products

Most studies found no differences between full-fat or low-fat products, or full-fat products yielded better results. In fact, full-fat dairy products can improve some diseases such as:

Visit this interesting article: Whole Milk vs Low-Fat Milk: Which One is Better?

Should children opt for full-fat or low-fat dairy products?

A child drinking milk.

It’s important that children consume full-fat milk because, as we stated above, a significant proportion of vitamins and minerals are lost in low-fat milk products. In a study of 2745 children, experts observed that the intake of full-fat milk was associated with higher blood concentrations of vitamin D and a lower body mass index.

We must state that these milk products shouldn’t contain added sugar because many milk products for children contain a lot of sugar and preservatives, which are counterproductive.


In general, you must customize each case, as dairy products aren’t the main cause of being overweight or obese. If it’s hard for your body to digest full-fat milk products, you can opt for low-fat milk products. Also, if you drink several glasses of milk a day.

But if you have to follow a low-fat diet for some reason, it may be best for you to consume low-fat milk products. Also, if you’re going to do a physical activity later in the day. Ultimately, you must take some key concepts into account:

  • Not all fats are “bad”; you just have to know their origin. As you’ve seen, saturated fats from milk don’t contribute to obesity or cardiovascular disease.
  • Since full-fat dairy products contain fat, they promote satiety, which can make you eat less throughout the day.
  • Low-fat milk products tend to be more tasteless and, for this very reason, people add sugar and refined grains to them. In other words, they remove the fat to incorporate other components that are more harmful to health.
  • Rautiainen, S., Wang, L., Lee, I. M., Manson, J. E., Buring, J. E., & Sesso, H. D. (2016). Dairy consumption in association with weight change and risk of becoming overweight or obese in middle-aged and older women: a prospective cohort study. The American journal of clinical nutrition103(4), 979-988.
  • Kratz, M., Baars, T., & Guyenet, S. (2013). The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease. European journal of nutrition52(1), 1-24.
  • Yu, E., & Hu, F. B. (2018). Dairy products, dairy fatty acids, and the prevention of cardiometabolic disease: a review of recent evidence. Current atherosclerosis reports20(5), 24.
  • Vanderhout, S. M., Birken, C. S., Parkin, P. C., Lebovic, G., Chen, Y., O’Connor, D. L., … & TARGet Kids! Collaboration. (2016). Relation between milk-fat percentage, vitamin D, and BMI z score in early childhood. The American journal of clinical nutrition104(6), 1657-1664.