Dr. Hassan Vatanparast (MD, PhD) is the principal investigator of the Nutrition and Growth Study. (Photo: Submitted)

How does dairy affect a child’s growth and development? USask researchers determined to find out

A group of University of Saskatchewan (USask) researchers are looking into how nutrition, particularly dairy foods, affect growth and development in Canadian children.

By University Communications

The research team is currently recruiting Canadian children aged 5 to 11 years old who have no history of chronic conditions and who are not currently taking any medications, to partake in the Nutrition and Growth Study over a span of 2.5 years.

“Adequate nutrition is important at all ages, but it is especially important during childhood for optimal physical growth and cognitive development, as well as to build strong foundations for healthy eating practices which can be applied throughout life,” said Dr. Hassan Vatanparast (MD, PhD), principal investigator of the study and professor in the USask College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, and in the School of Public Health.

According to Vatanparast, dairy products contain significant amounts of nutrients—such as calcium, vitamin D, and high-quality protein—that contribute to optimal health. 

“While we know that these nutrients are required for healthy growth and development in children, we do not know the specific contribution of dairy foods to Canadian children’s growth and cognitive development,” said Vatanparast. “We also do not know Canadian children’s knowledge and attitudes towards healthy eating, particularly dairy consumption, in addition to any facilitators or barriers to consuming dairy products.”

By using a novel mixed-methods longitudinal study design, the team will evaluate many factors including: measuring physical growth and cognitive development; assessing bone density and content, body composition, and biomarkers of growth; tracking cognitive development; and gathering additional information on physical activity, diet, and various sociodemographic factors every six months over the study period.

Families who choose to participate in this study will receive comprehensive health information about their child’s growth and development, as well as an honorarium.

For more information about the study, please contact: Zoe Bye or Mojtaba Shafiee at  zlb912@mail.usask.ca or vnel@usask.ca or 306-229-9563.