If you don’t drink your milk as a young adult, you may have three times the risk of developing metabolic disease, a precursor to diabetes, as college-age kids who consume at least three servings of dairy a day. That’s the startling conclusion of a new study from the University of Illinois, which is being performed as part of a collaboration with the Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí in Mexico.
The study examined 339 Mexican college applicants. There’s a focus on Mexico because 72 percent of Mexican adults are now obese compared to less than 70 percent of adult Americans.
Margarita Teran-Garcia, one of the UI researchers, said that only one in four people that age did consume the recommended amount of milk or other dairy products — which she viewed as evidence that potentially 75 percent of young adults age 18 to 25 are at risk.
The National Institutes of Health explained that metabolic syndrome isn’t so much a disease as it is a collection of risk factors that predict your chances of having a stroke, a heart attack, or developing diabetes.
One of the key risk factors — and the easiest for the average person to see — is a large waistline. If you tend to gain fat in the stomach as opposed to the hips or rear, then you could have twice the chance of heart disease and five times the chance of diabetes as someone whose weight was distributed more evenly.
But does skipping milk really put the Mexican young adults at risk? Or is it a false association?
About half of Latino and Hispanic adults in North America are lactose-intolerant, which means that they can’t digest milk. Over 80 percent of native North American adults are lactose intolerant, and around 75 percent of African-Americans are lactose intolerant.
Drinking milk causes them to suffer such pleasant symptoms as bloating, gas, cramps, farting, and even vomiting. Those are pretty strong incentives to swear off the stuff.
These same three groups have known genetic factors that increase their risk of developing metabolic syndrome. But the risk isn’t caused by not drinking milk. The risk is caused by their genes — the same genes that also program their bodies to make it unpleasant to continue drinking milk as an adult.
I’ve been wrong before, but my spidey sense is telling me that consuming more dairy won’t do a thing to change your genetic predisposition.
What’s your opinion of the link between metabolic syndrome and drinking milk?
[milk drop photo courtesy Fotopedia]