Does drinking milk make you gain weight?

The evidence shows that the dairy food group - that’s milk, cheese and yoghurt- do not lead to weight gain and might actually help with weight loss when included in a well-balanced diet.

Last updated 04/04/2024

Some people are confused about the effect of milk and other dairy foods on weight. The research actually suggests that these foods don't necessarily make you gain weight – they might even have a neutral or positive impact on weight loss. 

For the last few decades fat has been regarded as the biggest offender for growing waistlines and associated diseases and death around the world. We now know that this isn’t the case.

The availability of low-fat or fat-free dairy products has added to the belief that dairy makes you gain weight. However, studies reveal that having a balanced intake of milk, yogurt, and cheese as part of a healthy diet isn't linked to weight gain. 

When it comes to shedding weight through a controlled diet, research indicates that having at least three servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese a day might help with weight loss and reducing body fat compared to those who consume less dairy.[1]

This happens because dairy foods contain a mix of nutrients and complex interactions between these nutrients that contribute to their positive effects within a well-rounded diet.

Evidence actually supports consuming both regular and reduced-fat dairy for good health. Surprisingly, neither type seems to be associated with causing weight gain or obesity.[2],[3]

To maintain a healthy weight, the Australian Dietary Guidelines advise cutting back on discretionary or ‘sometimes’ foods , moderating portion sizes, and finding ways to be more active in our daily routines.[4]


The dairy food group is part of a healthy diet that includes a variety of foods.


[1] Stonehouse W, Wycherley T, Luscombe-Marsh N, Taylor P, Brinkworth G, Riley M. Dairy Intake Enhances Body Weight and Composition Changes during Energy Restriction in 18-50-Year-Old Adults-A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients. 2016 Jul 1;8(7). pii: E394. doi: 10.3390/nu8070394.

[2] Chen M, Pan A, Malik VS, Hu FB. Effects of dairy intake on body weight and fat: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Oct;96(4):735-47. Epub 2012 Aug 29.

[3] Abargouei AS, Janghorbani M, Salehi-Marzijarani M, Esmaillzadeh A. Effect of dairy consumption on weight and body composition in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. Int J Obes (Lond) 2012;36(12):1485–93

[4] National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian Dietary Guidelines Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2013.

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