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Am J Clin Nutr. 2019 Apr 17. pii: nqz017. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqz017. [Epub ahead of print]

The effect of high compared with low dairy consumption on glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and metabolic flexibility in overweight adults: a randomized crossover trial.

Author information

Department of Internal Medicinecal.
Department of Dietetics.
Department of Laboratory Medicine.
Department of Epidemiology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.
Dialysis Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.
Department of Nutritional Sciences, FrieslandCampina, Amersfoort, The Netherlands.



Dairy products contain many nutritious components that may benefit metabolic health. There are indications that glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, which are generally disturbed in overweight and obese individuals, may improve by increased dairy intake. This may also affect one's metabolic flexibility.


The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of high compared with low dairy intake on glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and metabolic flexibility in overweight adults (aged 45-65 y).


In this randomized intervention study, subjects consumed a high- and a low-dairy diet [HDD (5-6 dairy portions) and LDD (≤1 dairy portion), respectively] for 6 wk in a crossover design, with a washout period of 4 wk. Dairy portions were 200 g semi-skimmed yoghurt, 30 g reduced-fat (30+) cheese, and 250 mL semiskimmed milk and buttermilk. After 6 wk, a 75-g oral-glucose-tolerance test (13C-labeled) and a subsequent fasting challenge were performed. Metabolic flexibility was studied by determining the respiratory quotient (RQ) using indirect calorimetry. Fasting and postprandial plasma concentrations of glucose and insulin were analyzed. The dual isotope technique enabled calculation of glucose kinetics.


The study was completed by 45 overweight men and postmenopausal women [age 58.9 ± 4.3 y, BMI 27.9 ± 1.9 kg/m2 (mean ± SD)]. Fasting RQ and ΔRQ, reflecting metabolic flexibility, did not differ after both diets. Fasting glucose concentrations were similar, whereas fasting insulin concentrations were lower after the LDD (LDD: 8.1 ± 2.8 mU/L; HDD: 8.9 ± 3.3 mU/L; P = 0.024). This resulted in a higher HOMA-IR after the HDD (P = 0.027). Postprandial glucose and insulin responses as well as glucose kinetics were similar after both diets.


The amount of dairy intake during a 6-wk period had a neutral effect on metabolic flexibility or postprandial glucose metabolism in middle-aged overweight subjects. More trials are needed to study the effects of specific dairy types and to differentiate between metabolic subgroups. This trial was registered at as NTR4899.


dairy; diabetes; glucose kinetics; metabolic flexibility; overweight


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