Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Milk fat does not affect the symptoms of lactose intolerance


Objective: This study investigated the role of the fat content of milk on symptoms of lactose intolerance. Design: Subjects recorded intolerance symptoms using a visual analogue scale (VAS) following ingestion of three test milks of varying fat content for a two-day period. Subjects/Setting: The subjects were thirty adult volunteers, patients of two Estonian out-patient clinics with diagnosed lactose intolerance. The study milks were drunk at home or at work. All thirty subjects completed the study protocol. Intervention: Each subject drank, in random order, fat-free milk (4.9% lactose), high-fat milk (8% fat, 4.9% lactose), and a lactose-free and fat-free control milk. They drank 200 ml of the milk twice a day for two days, one milk type per session, with five days between sessions. The subjects noted their gastrointestinal symptoms during the test periods and during a 5 d milk-free period at the beginning of the study. The occurrence and severity of symptoms were compared. A global measure of the severity of symptoms was defined by computing the sum of the symptom scores. Results: The sum of symptoms was higher during all milk periods than during the milk-free period (P<0.01). There were no statistically significant differences in the occurrence or severity of symptoms during the fat-free milk period compared with the high-fat milk period. Conclusions: Even a marked difference in the fat content of milk did not affect the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Consequently, there seems to be no case for recommending full-fat milk products in the treatment of lactose intolerance. Sponsorship: The study was supported by the Foundation of the Finnish Association of Agronomists: Valio Ltd, Finland, provided the test milks.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Vesa, T., Lember, M. & Korpela, R. Milk fat does not affect the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Eur J Clin Nutr 51, 633–636 (1997).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


This article is cited by


Quick links