A new Canadian study receiving attention at home and abroad says that milk – not water or sports drinks – is better at keeping children hydrated, particularly in the hot summer months when they are extra active.
The study, from McMaster University in Hamilton, looked at eight 10-year-olds exercising in a climate chamber and concluded that the dairy beverage was the best of those options for battling dehydration.
That may seem surprising. For years, many doctors and health experts have told parents that while milk can be a good way to keep kids hydrated – and is much better than alternatives such as sugary pop or juices – water is also an excellent choice. Why the sudden declaration that milk is better?
Perhaps it’s because the research was paid for by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, an organization that dedicates resources to promoting consumption of milk and other dairy products.
Also of note is the fact that the study only looked at a small sample size, which makes it difficult to draw definitive conclusions.
As well, the researchers mention that milk can provide protein for muscle development and growth – which the other drinks cannot. But children don’t necessarily need to get protein from drinks, as long as they get it from eating a nutritious diet. So while it may be good that milk is a source of protein, it doesn’t mean children need to drink it while exercising for that express purpose.
Some children also have allergies to milk or are lactose intolerant, which means a blanket recommendation may be inappropriate for large numbers of people.
Still, the study is receiving wide attention from a variety of news sources and online sites, with many headlines proclaiming that children are better off drinking milk than water. Many of the stories fail to mention that the study was funded by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, however, or only mentions the association in passing.
It’s troubling because many well-meaning parents may read these accounts and not realize the findings may not actually hold water.
What do you think – should research funded by organizations with a vested interest be taken seriously?