Brock researchers studying impact of dairy in weight loss efforts of teenage girls

There is a new research study about to start at Brock University examining the role dairy plays in the diet and exercise efforts of overweight teenage girls.

The research team is looking for 75 girls from around Niagara to participate in the three-month study, said Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Andrea Josse. 

Participants will be exercising with personal trainers three times a week and will receive personal diet counselling from a dietitian. Participants will also receive specialized devices to help them monitor their physical activity and to help with the exercise training. Some of the girls will be asked to consume a certain amount of dairy foods per day, while others will not. The research team will provide the dairy foods.

This research hasn’t been done before. Studies have been done on just diet or just exercise, but not both together with a focus on lifestyle change, in this population.

Josse said the research study, funded by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, will specifically look at the role of dairy products in weight management intervention.

“This research hasn’t been done before. Studies have been done on just diet or just exercise, but not both together with a focus on lifestyle change, in this population,” Josse said.

The main measures of the study will be body composition and bone health. Researchers are also assessing fitness and strength, and other cardiovascular disease risk factors such as cholesterol, blood sugars and insulin.

“Because every subject is exercising regardless of whether they are consuming dairy foods or not, we should see positive changes in participants’ fitness levels and strength,” Josse said.

All of the girls, whether they are in the dairy group or non-dairy group can expect to see changes including loss of fat mass, an increase in cardio fitness and strength and a greater knowledge of nutrition, Josse said.

“We have a lot of educational pieces intertwined within our study. The participants will be able to take a lot of that information home with them.”

The study is recruiting girls between the ages of 10-16 who have already menstruated.

“Our participants will be overweight teenage girls. We are targeting this specific population who may already be on a trajectory to being unhealthy as they age. The goal is to provide them with tools to get back to a healthier lifestyle and decrease the burden of disease later in life,” Josse said.

Lead PhD student Rozalia Kouvelioti said regardless of the outcome of the study, the girls involved will benefit from the tools the trainers and dietitians give them. She hopes the study will help improve self-esteem, confidence and lower some risk factors for the participants.

She said the exercise programs will be tailored to the individual girls and their fitness levels.

Josse said while the study is being funded by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, that won’t impact the outcomes.

“We have every right to publish whatever the data show,” she said. “We are unsure of exactly what affect added dairy may have in this intervention trial of lifestyle modification, which is why we are doing the study.”

Research co-ordinator Izabella Ludwa said participants will meet monthly with dietitians, exercise at Brock three times a week with a personal trainer, receive an iPod shuffle and FitBit Zip to help monitor physical activity.

Milk, yogurt and cheese will be provided for participants in the dairy group, she said.

If you are interested in participating in the study or would like more information, call 905-688-5550 x5826 or email

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