People who consume more yogurt are more likely to have lesser body weight, smaller waists and less body fat compared to those who do not, a comprehensive review of previous studies revealed. However, it is not clear whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship between yogurt and lower body weight.

An international team of researchers examined 22 studies regarding the intake of yogurt and its effect on those who eat it. Of these, 13 studies observed individuals during a certain period and matched their consumption of yogurt. These 13 studies revealed that the body composition of those who ate more yogurt were healthier.

Other studies were more rigorous, researchers said. Participants of these previous studies were randomly assigned to eat yogurt or not. These participants were monitored, and the results of these studies were mixed. One study discovered remarkable weight loss among the group who ate yogurt, but experts said it did not cross out the chance that variations in calcium intake affected the individuals.

"Studies that look specifically at weight loss are very limited," said Utrecht University's Irene Lenoir-Wijnkoop, co-author of the study. She said that based on their findings, it cannot be concluded that yogurt does cause weight loss, even if the tendency in the analysis is promising.

Dr. Nita Forouhi from the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine said that yogurt contains micronutrients, such as calcium, which have potential health benefits. Calcium is essential in the breakdown of fats.

Forouhi, who was not involved in the comprehensive review, explained that because yogurt is a fermented product, its effects on obesity would possibly be linked to its effects on the gut microbiome. This is a field which is currently amassing more attention in research, she said.

Still, there was a lack of well-conducted randomized control trials that assess different amounts and types of yogurt against no or low consumption of yogurt and that are of sufficient quality and duration, Forouhi added.

Meanwhile, Lenoir-Wijnkoop said that a randomized trial would determine whether yogurt consumption does lead to weight loss, but it would be essential to have an adequate number of participants, a follow-up of over a long time span which would ideally last for 12 months, and a proper plan to address effects of yogurt.

The comprehensive review is published in the International Journal of Obesity.

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