Why we pass on the semi-skimmed and low-fat dairy

Last Updated on May 25, 2019 by Afifah Hamilton
Read Time: 2 min

If you take a look at the recipes, articles and health issues discussed on this site you will see that we love full-fat dairy products, (see here, here and here). Of course, not everyone can tolerate cow’s milk (or sheep’s or goat’s for that matter), but for those that can full-fat is the way to go.

At work, I am the only person who has full-fat milk in the fridge. Everyone else, apparently under the miasma of the ‘artery-clogging-saturated-fat’ mantra reaches for the semi-skimmed. Weirdly though, when one of the staff brings in her famous home-baked scones and a pot of Cornish clotted cream they all excuse themselves with various guilty comments and references to ‘naughty but nice’. It might be antisocial, but at such times I make no excuses for accepting a large tablespoon of cream, whilst passing up the scones.

So what is the evidence?

A recently published Swedish study enrolled 1700 men, then 12 years later identified those who had developed abdominal obesity. 15% of them apparently.

Among those with a low intake of dairy fat (no butter and low-fat milk and seldom/never whipping cream), there was a 50% higher incidence of developing central obesity. Whilst those who had a high intake of dairy fat (butter, high-fat milk and whipping cream) had a 50% lower incidence of central obesity, compared to those with a medium intake.

This was so exciting I had to turn it into a pretty infographic:


As the authors point out, central obesity (abdominal fat) is not good, and

“…indicates insulin resistance and is part of the metabolic syndrome and well-known to increase the risk of diabetes but it is also associated with heart disease, various cancers, dementia, and preterm death. Prevention of central obesity is therefore crucial with the potential of limiting the risk for various diseases.

So how wonderful to find that protecting your health is as easy (and delicious) as switching from skimmed to full-fat milk, ditching the margarine for butter, and picking the full-fat yoghurt and double cream. Better still, try crème Fraiche or the queen of dairy fats: Cornish clotted cream – I have it most days with berries or keto-pancakes.


  1. Sara Holmberg and Anders Thelin, High dairy fat intake related to less central obesity: A male cohort study with 12 years’ follow-up. Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care, Jun 2013:

“Dietary advice is an important lifestyle intervention in primary care but what advice ought to be given? Recent research proposes that dairy products, rich in saturated fats, do not hold the negative metabolic consequences previously believed.


“Central obesity was studied in relation to dairy consumption among rural men.  A high intake of dairy fat was associated with a lower risk of developing central obesity and a low intake of dairy fat was associated with a higher risk of central obesity.


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