With the number of non-fat and low fat milk and milk products available on the market, certain questions are implied. Exactly how much lower in fat are these milks than standard milk? Is 1% or 2% milk really much lower in fat or calories than whole milk, and are there any people who should drink whole milk?
An 8 fluid ounce (about 0.236 liters or 247 grams) serving of whole milk has 146 calories, and approximately 0.279 ounces (7.93 grams) of fat. In contrast, 2% milk contains 122 calories and 0.169 ounces (4.81 grams) of fat. 1% milk has 102 calories and 0.083 ounces (2.37 grams) of fat, and non-fat or skim milk has about 0.015 ounces (0.44 grams) of fat and contains 86 calories per serving.
In percentage factors, this type of milk could be called 3.25% milk. It must have at least 3.25% milk fats in order to be classed as "whole." The above figures show, however, that whole milk has almost twice the fat content as does 2% milk, and about 16 times the fat content of nonfat milk.
This doesn't necessarily mean that regular milk is always bad. In fact, from a calorie standpoint, the difference between standard milk and 2% milk is fairly minimal. A person would be consuming about 30 more calories when drinking whole milk. Calorie differences are most significant when comparing whole fat milk to non-fat milk. A glass of non-fat milk saves 64 calories, which may be an asset if the drinker is trying to lower his or her calorie consumption.
There are groups of people who should not drink lower fat milk, and there is some evidence that using low fat milks can be detrimental. This is especially the case with children. For children who drink milk, more fat content is actually better, especially for kids under two. Pediatricians represent several schools of thought here. Some suggest that children under the age of five should keep drinking regular milk, while others argue that low fat milk is fine for kids over the age of two. If a child seems to be getting plenty of calories and eats a well-balanced diet, whole fat milk may not be necessary.
For people with conditions that cause them to be undernourished, whole fat milk may also be a better choice than low fat varieties. If a person is trying to gain weight, more calories are usually better, and humans do need a certain amount of fat in their diet. Alternately, if a person likes the creamy taste of regular milk and eats an otherwise low fat diet, a single glass of milk a day will only constitute 23% of his or her daily allowance for saturated fat. On the other hand, if someone is trying to lose weight, lower fat milk may be the better choice.