JUNE 16, 2005 -- We've all heard milk helps build strong bodies in kids.
"Milk and dairy products are naturally nutrient rich foods so kids are getting calcium, also protein, magnesium, potassium and other important nutrients they need for growth," says Erin Coffield with the New England Dairy and Food Council.
A new study finds milk may also increase a child's waistline. Registered dietician Helaine Rockett was one of the researchers.
"Boys and girls who drank more than three servings a day of milk had a 25-percent greater chance of becoming overweight than children who drank less than that," says Rockett.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital tracked the health and dietary habits of more than 12,000 children ages 9-14 in all 50 states. Researchers say it's not the milk that's the problem, it's the calories in it. So children who need to manage or lose weight shouldn't be drinking extra milk.
"Once you've had your requirement of dairy whether through milk, or cheese, if you then want to drink something it should be water or something without calories," says Rockett.
The study findings don't surprise Erin Coffield.
"The study is actually in line with what the dairy industry says, which is kids get three servings a day," says Coffield.
In addition to watching their dairy intake, adolescents who are trying to lose weight should make sure to get some form of exercise everyday. Before starting any type of weight loss or exercise program, check with your child's pediatrician first.