Dairy Industry Welcomes New Dietary Guidelines That Embrace Dairy’s Central Role in a Healthy Diet and Recommend More Dairy Consumption Across Key Demographics

WASHINGTON —The International Dairy Foods Association, representing all segments in the U.S. dairy industry, applauded the release today of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans affirming that dairy products will maintain their historically important role in federal nutrition recommendations, including recommending most Americans consume three servings of dairy each day.

The report was published today by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services after nearly two years of review, evaluation, and discussion by a committee of scientific and nutritional experts. For the first time, the 2020-2025 DGAs include recommendations for children younger than two years of age. These new recommendations make dairy foods an important part of a healthy diet for young children from 6 months to 24 months of age. From 12-23 months of age, the DGAs recommend “higher fat versions of dairy … compared to patterns for ages 2 and older”, including whole milk.

The guidelines go on to make a key recommendation to American adolescents and adults to consume more fat-free and low-fat dairy as part of a healthy diet. Dairy provides 11 essential nutrients; however, as the guidelines note, dairy is an under consumed food category. Increasing consumption of dairy will contribute to meeting recommended intakes of protein, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and vitamins A and D, according the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The report points out that about 90 percent of the U.S. population does not meet dairy recommendations and concludes that, “Individuals should be encouraged to make shifts to increase the intake of vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, and dairy to move intakes of these under-consumed dietary components closer to recommendations.” 

“The Dietary Guidelines confirm what the overwhelming body of science has been telling us for years—that dairy is one of the most nutritious foods available to people of all ages,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA. “So, pick up a glass of milk. Tear off the lid to your favorite yogurt. Cut off a piece of cheese. The scientists and experts agree that Americans need to consume more dairy to meet federal nutrition recommendations. We also applaud the federal government and the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for making dairy central in new recommendations for children 6 through 24 months of age. Let’s build on this report to make dairy central in the diets of all Americans once again.”

Here are five important takeaways in the 2020-2025 DGAs for dairy:

  1. A diet including low-fat and fat-free dairy is part of the ideal, healthy dietary pattern along with whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
  2. The guidelines encourage most Americans to consume three servings of dairy per day. Dairy contains key nutrients that Americans should consume more of—also called “food components of public health concern”—including vitamin D, calcium, and potassium.
  3. Dairy remains a separate, distinct food group in recognition of its unrivaled health and nutrition benefits to people of all ages.
  4. Small amounts of some foods including dairy foods are recommended for children beginning at 6-12 months of age and continuing thereafter as part of new recommendations for toddlers. In the second year of life, when calcium requirements increase, dairy products including milk, yogurt, and cheese provide a good source of calcium. The recommendations call for inclusion of higher fat versions of dairy, including whole milk, for toddlers ages 12 through 23 months, which can also help meet calcium, vitamin D and protein needs.
  5. The guidelines contain messages and data useful to combatting misinformation related to dairy. The guidelines state:  “Consistent evidence demonstrates that a healthy dietary pattern [including low-fat and fat-free dairy] is associated with beneficial outcomes for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, overweight and obesity, type 2 diabetes, bone health, and certain types of cancer (breast and colorectal).” Additionally, a healthy eating pattern for children from birth through 24 months—which includes the introduction of some dairy after 6 months—helps to “lower risk of asthma” for children.

The federal nutrition guidance affirms the unrivaled nutritional contributions made by dairy foods and reminds Americans that a healthy diet includes three daily servings of dairy. Cow’s milk is a source of eleven essential nutrients and is also a major source of three of the four under-consumed nutrients of public health concern. In fact, no other type of food or beverage provides the unique combination of nutrients that dairy contributes to the American diet, including protein, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium, and health benefits including better bone health and lower risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans will have a significant impact on the health and wellness of all Americans. Not only do the guidelines provide advice on the foods and beverages that help individuals develop a healthy diet, they also set the standards for federal nutrition programs like the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs. Every five years, the Dietary Guidelines rely on the best science to advise Americans on building a wholesome, nutritious diet containing a range of foods and beverages. Once again, dairy foods are considered central in the diets of all Americans.

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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports more than 3 million jobs that generate $159 billion in wages and $620 billion in overall economic impact. IDFA’s diverse membership ranges from multinational organizations to single-plant companies, from dairy companies and cooperatives to food retailers and suppliers, all on the cutting edge of innovation and sustainable business practices. Together, they represent 90 percent of the milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and cultured products, and dairy ingredients produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. Delicious, safe and nutritious, dairy foods offer unparalleled health and consumer benefits to people of all ages.