MilkTOT Microbiome Study

Researcher: Dr. Helen Ritchie, Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist, UC ANR
Timeline: January 2024 – December 2026

*Project is co-funded 50/50 with Dairy Council of California (DCC).

Background: In the U.S., it is currently recommended that young children consume whole cow’s milk starting at age 1 year and then transition to low (1%) or non-fat milk at age 2 and thereafter to reduce calorie intake for obesity prevention. However, these recommendations are not based on rigorous trials, and the existing observational studies suggest that higher fat milk intake is associated with reduced adiposity. Moreover, studies are lacking on the impact of milk type on the microbiome, a relatively new indicator of health.

Researchers received a 5-year R01 study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), that began in fall 2023, called the Milk-TOT Study. Additional funding is being requested from CDRF to leverage the NIH-funded study for an evaluation of milk intake on the gut microbiota, a topic for which there is little evidence especially in young children. Researchers from UC NPI, Stanford University, George Washington University, and UC Berkley will be collaborating to complete this study.

Industry Benefit: Results from the Milk-TOT study (which stands to be the first study to rigorously test the impacts of milk type on young children in the U.S.) can inform the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics guidelines, providing healthcare practitioners with evidence-based recommendations on the role of milk type for optimal child health. Findings also can inform the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which serve as the basis for the types of milk provided to participants in federal nutrition programs. Increasing serving recommendations could provide an increased demand for California dairy. These impacts can increase the consumption of California dairy.