Cow’s Milk Fat Obesity pRevention Trial (CoMFORT)
Dr. Jonathon Maguire, St. Michael’s Hospital
What is this study about?
Childhood obesity is a healthcare issue affecting 1 in 3 Canadian children. The long-term consequences of childhood obesity include increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke which reduces quality of life. Since 1992, Health Canada has recommended that children older than 2 years consume reduced fat milk (i.e. 1% milk fat) rather than whole milk (3.25% milk fat) to prevent childhood obesity.
Unfortunately, childhood obesity has tripled since then and whole cow’s milk intake has been cut in half leading many to wonder whether the reduction in whole milk consumption is leading to childhood obesity. New research from our group and others supports that reduced milk fat intake early in life may be promoting rather than preventing childhood obesity. Although several biological mechanisms have been proposed, the leading theory is that children may feel more ‘full’ after consuming whole milk and less likely to seek calories from unhealthy foods.
What is the study's goal?
This innovative clinical trial will compare the effect of primary healthcare recommendation for whole (3.25%) vs. reduced fat (1%) milk in early childhood in optimizing childhood growth, development, and nutrition at 4 years of age. Children will be randomized to receive cow’s milk fat recommendations at their 2 year child visit and followed until age 4 through TARGet Kids! participation, when usual TARGet Kids! outcomes such as Body Mass Index z-score (zBMI), which is a measure of body fatness, cardiovascular health measured by a blood sample, and dietary intake through a dietary recall tool.
Why is this study important?
This trial will ensure that primary healthcare providers are delivering the correct nutritional cow’s milk fat recommendation in early childhood and to protect the next generation of Canada’s children from the long term consequences of childhood obesity.