The potential nutrition-, physical- and health-related benefits of cow's milk for primary-school aged children

Penny Rumbold*, Nicola McCullogh, Ruth Boldon, Crystal Haskell, Lewis James, Emma J. Stevenson, Benjamin Green

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Cow's milk is a naturally nutrient-dense foodstuff. A significant source of many essential nutrients, its inclusion as a component of a healthy balanced diet has been long recommended. Beyond milk's nutritional value, an increasing body of evidence illustrates cow's milk may confer numerous benefits related to health. Evidence from adult populations suggests that cow's milk may have a role in overall dietary quality, appetite control, hydration and cognitive function. Although evidence is limited compared to the adult literature, these benefits may be echoed in recent paediatric studies. This article, therefore, reviews the scientific literature to provide an evidence-based evaluation of the associated health benefits of cow's milk consumption in primary-school aged children (4-11 years). We focus on seven key areas related to nutrition and health comprising nutritional status, hydration, dental and bone health, physical stature, cognitive function, and appetite control. The evidence consistently demonstrates cow's milk (plain and flavoured) improves nutritional status in primary-school aged children. With some confidence, cow's milk also appears beneficial for hydration, dental and bone health and beneficial to neutral concerning physical stature and appetite. Due to conflicting studies, reaching a conclusion has proven difficult concerning cow's milk and cognitive function therefore a level of caution should be exercised when interpreting these results. All areas, however, would benefit from further robust investigation, especially in free-living school settings, to verify conclusions. Nonetheless, when the nutritional-, physical- and health-related impact of cow's milk avoidance is considered, the evidence highlights the importance of increasing cow's milk consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-69
Number of pages20
JournalNutrition Research Reviews
Issue number1
Early online date27 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


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