The research carried out by scientists from Purdue University, West Lafayette found that increased consumption of dairy calcium was not associated with reduced weight and fat mass, as had been suggested by previous results.
The researchers came to this conclusion after following 155 women aged 18-30 for one year. They found that those who ate the most dairy - the equivalent of three to four glasses of milk per day - were no more likely to gain or lose weight than people who took in no more than the equivalent of one glass of milk per day.
Dr. Dorothy Teegarden, who led the study, told Reuters Health that these findings suggested that if dairy products have any effect on body weight, it may take longer than a year to make a noticeable difference.
"It is likely that the effect of calcium or dairy products on preventing gain of body fat is relatively small, and therefore it will take a long time to see the changes," she said, though did not rule out the possibility that significant changes could be made over a period of several years.
Teegarden explained that it was "not surprising" that women didn't lose weight, given that they were all young, active, and already at a healthy weight.
"We can definitely say that adding dairy to your diet does not increase weight or body fat," she concluded.
The full results of this study can be found in the April edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition .