GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — Dairy checkoff has been committed to nutrition science and education for over a century through the work of National Dairy Council. With a staff of registered dietitians, nutrition researchers and communication experts, National Dairy Council works to provide practical information about how dairy contributes to health and sustainable food systems. One way this work comes to life is protecting dairy’s place in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).
The 2020-2025 DGA, released in December 2020, reaffirms the importance of daily dairy consumption as part of a healthy diet. The DGA is reevaluated every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with input from a committee comprised of appointed nutrition and health experts during the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee revision process. Lana Frantzen, Ph.D., Dairy MAX vice president of health and wellness, attended the Committee meeting in Houston, speaking on behalf of the National Dairy Council.
“The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are critical to the future of dairy,” said Frantzen. “Development of the guidelines is science-driven, which is why checkoff works at national and local levels to share the science and research behind dairy’s role in nourishing people, communities and the planet.”
The impact of the DGA spans nationally, serving as the foundation for U.S. nutrition policies and feeding assistance programs such as national school meal programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), among others. These programs nourish millions of Americans and provide the dairy foods needed to meet DGA recommendations. According to the USDA, federal food assistance programs moved 10.7 million pounds of milk, 684 million pounds of cheese and 662 million pounds of yogurt and other dairy foods in 2019 alone.
Key aspects of the DGA for dairy include:
- Dairy remains its own food group.
- The nutrients of concern for Americans continue to be calcium, vitamin D, potassium and fiber. Dairy foods are important sources of calcium, vitamin D and potassium in the U.S. diet and can help close these nutrient gaps.
- For the first time, the DGA recommendations for the birth-to-23-month time period are included and yogurt and cheese were recognized as complementary feeding options for infants starting as early as 6 months. Dairy foods (whole milk, reduced-fat cheese and reduced-fat plain yogurt) were included in recommendations for toddlers 12-23 months.
- Daily inclusion of low-fat and fat-free dairy foods is recommended in all three DGA healthy dietary patterns. Following these healthy dietary patterns is associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Linking dairy foods to bone health in both adolescents and adults, showing dairy’s important nutritional support for accrual of bone mass and promotion of bone health outcomes, including prevention of the onset of osteoporosis.
- Including whole or reduced-fat dairy is still possible within the DGA limits. The DGA maintained the recommended 10% or less of calories from saturated fat without any decrease.
Dairy checkoff continues to invest in research on dairy nutrition at all fat levels related to health and the reduced risk of disease. There is a growing body of evidence in the research pipeline that will provide additional science-based data in support of the consumption of a wide variety of dairy at all fat levels. Work has already begun to inform the next version of the DGA to be published in 2025, with National Dairy Council and Dairy MAX continuing to launch new resources reaching health professionals and consumers to validate the health benefits of dairy.
Visit DairyMAX.org to learn more on how your local checkoff is promoting dairy’s role in a balanced diet.
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