Milk Powder Increases Cognitive Test Scores

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A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition demonstrate the positive impact that milk protein can have on body condition and brain function in 6 to 9-year-old children where malnutrition was prevalent. The study looked at the effects of milk and plant proteins on growth and cognitive function of children from 13 different schools in the Atebubu district within the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana.

1041 children both girls and boys, divided into four equal groups, took part in the eight-month study.

One group received a full glass of milk with 8.8g of milk protein, one group was given half a glass of milk with 4.4g of milk protein, another was given 4.4g of milk protein and 4.4g of a plant based protein and the final group was not given any additional protein.  The children’s teachers were trained in how to serve the milk powder during the breakfast to ensure consistency across all the groups.

The children’s physical development was assessed regularly including blood spot sampling and body condition measurements and cognitive tests were performed before and after the intervention.

Children who were given a glass of milk a day not only saw an improvement in body condition but they also performed significantly better in some specific cognitive tests compared to their peers. Children given protein supplement had improved body condition compared to the group that didn’t receive any protein.

 

The trial was a partnership between Arla Foods and Dr Manary from Washington University School of Medicine. It was part of the five-year Healthy and Affordable Proteins for the African Market (HAPFAM) research project led by the University of Copenhagen which is looking into the use of milk and plant proteins in diets without compromising on health or quality.

 

This study helps to further the understanding of how dairy contributes towards addressing the global nutritional challenge and is an important part of the sector’s overall commitment toward achieving Sustainable Development Goal number two – Ending hunger, achieving food security, and improving nutrition.

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