The main takeaway for dairy foods following the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) scientific report is that National Dairy Council (NDC) and the science behind dairy’s role in nutrition and health remains strong, leading to good news for the dairy community and for consumers.
The DGAC released its scientific report on July 15 and serves as the science-based recommendation for USDA and Health and Human Services (HHS) to form the final 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), which is expected later this year. Of note, the DGA is the foundation of federal food assistance programs such as school meals representing 12.7 billion pounds of milk equivalents distributed through these programs (USDA data, 2018).
The DGAC’s recommendations maintain dairy’s important role as a food group and in healthy eating patterns. Many people don’t meet the recommended daily dairy servings. Because dairy’s nutrition can be hard to replace with other foods for similar calories and price, it is important to help people meet their daily dairy recommendations.
It’s reassuring to see science holds firm in forming the recommendations, especially given the delicate atmosphere of the global nutrition dialogue. Some countries moved toward only recommending two daily servings of dairy, while others, such as Canada, removed the dairy group. The report is a win for continued science-based dietary guidelines, and the dairy checkoff investment in peer-reviewed science on dairy’s role in nutrition, health and sustainable food systems.
There are two core areas I’d like to spotlight:
- The evidence for dairy and bone health is strengthened: While evidence on healthy eating patterns that include dairy and bone health has been noted as strong for children, the committee also determined the evidence for adults was strengthened, showing dairy’s nutritional value for bone health, including reduced risk of hip fracture. This is significant because anti-dairy groups often share misinformation about dairy’s role in bone health, yet the DGAC experts have affirmed dairy’s importance in bone health.
Future recommendations from the DGAC for the next DGAs (2025) include a focus on sustainable food systems and whole foods versus targeting fat as a single nutrient, for example. This validates the dairy community’s research on whole milk and the work in sustainable nutrition and environmental sustainability.
The shift to more fat flexibility is already happening in the real world as demonstrated by the actions of consumers and thought leaders:
- Whole milk has increased its volume share of milk. In 2020, whole milk holds 41% share, the largest of any fat level.
- Health and wellness professionals and health authorities are starting to embrace fat flexibility for dairy foods such as Joslin Diabetes Center, the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Australian Heart Foundation.
The scientific rigor that NDC’s research leadership exhibits during each 5-year DGA process is unparalleled. Thirteen different public comments were submitted with detailed scientific substantiation for areas like heart health, diabetes, child nutrition, lactose intolerance, B-24, older adults, whole- and reduced-fat dairy foods. A total of 581 scientific references were reviewed and cited to put forth these strong evidence-based comments in support of dairy’s contributions to nutrition and health. This level of thoroughness would not be possible without dairy farmers’ investment in research.
As a next step, NDC will provide additional science-based perspective on the DGAC report during the final public comment period in August. Focus areas include how whole- and reduced-fat dairy foods fit into healthy eating patterns, including the dairy matrix to convey dairy’s unique attributes as a whole food as well as dairy’s contributions to food and nutrition security to meet diverse needs.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to look toward the future to how dairy farmers’ investment in research will propel us to meet the future needs of people, communities and the planet.
Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) scientific report link here.