Children who regularly drink milk are physically fitter in old age, according to new research.
Report by Mailonline
It found elderly people who consumed the highest amounts of milk and dairy foods in childhood were able to walk faster and were much less likely to suffer problems with balance.
The findings, by researchers at Bristol University, could be important because poor balance raises the risk of fractures in old age.
One in three people aged over 65 suffers a serious fall at least once a year.
One of the most common problems is hip fractures, often due to underlying osteoporosis.
Those over 65 who break a hip, have a 20% chance of dying within a year.
Researchers from the university’s School of Social and Community Medicine wanted to see if the benefits of milk consumption early in life lasted through to later years.
They studied 400 men and women aged from their mid-60s to late 80s.
They had all taken part in a study which began back in the 1930s to analyse the affect of diet and lifestyle on long-term health.
As part of the study, the volunteers, who were then all young children, were tracked for their intake of milk and dairy goods.
To test if this had any impact on health in old age, the volunteers were tested for their walking speeds and their balance.
The results, published in the journal Age and Ageing, showed milk-lovers had 5% faster walking times than those who drank little or no milk.
They were also 25% less likely to have potentially dangerous balance problems.
In a report on their findings, the researchers said: “This is the first study to show positive associations of childhood milk intake with physical performance in old age.”
The findings support earlier research highlighting the health benefits of drinking milk as a youngster.
Last year, a study found children who drank school milk were up to 40% less likely to suffer bowel cancer as adults.
The disease kills more than 16 000 people a year in the UK.
Pupils were 20% less likely to suffer a tumour later in life if they had milk every day for at least four to six years and 40% less likely if they were given milk for six years or more.