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BACKGROUND: studies have shown that milk and dairy consumption in adulthood have beneficial effects on health. METHODS: we examined the impact of childhood and adult diet on physical performance at age 63-86 years. The Boyd Orr cohort (n = 405) is a 65-year prospective study of children who took part in a 1930's survey; the Caerphilly Prospective Study (CaPS; n = 1,195) provides data from mid-life to old age. We hypothesised that higher intakes of childhood and adult milk, calcium, protein, fat and energy would be associated with a better performance. RESULTS: in fully adjusted models, a standard deviation (SD) increase in natural log-transformed childhood milk intake was associated with 5% faster walking times from the get-up and go test in Boyd Orr (95% CI: 1 to 9) and 25% lower odds of poor balance (OR: 0.75; 0.55 to 1.02). Childhood calcium intake was positively associated with walking times (4% faster per SD; 0 to 8) and a higher protein intake was associated with lower odds of poor balance (OR: 0.71; 0.54 to 0.92). In adulthood, protein intake was positively associated with walking times (2% faster per SD; 1 to 3; Boyd Orr and CaPS pooled data). CONCLUSION: this is the first study to show positive associations of childhood milk intake with physical performance in old age.

Original publication




Journal article


Age Ageing

Publication Date





776 - 784


Adolescent, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Aging, Animals, Calcium, Dietary, Child, Child, Preschool, Cohort Studies, Dairy Products, Dietary Proteins, Eating, Health Status, Health Surveys, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Middle Aged, Milk, Physical Fitness, Postural Balance, Prospective Studies, Socioeconomic Factors, United Kingdom, Walking