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IDFA Urges DGAC to Enhance Dairy’s Role in Healthy Diets and Improve Access to Dairy for All Americans – PerishableNews

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IDFA’s comments to the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee highlighted the latest science on dairy fats and the importance of dairy nutrition to all Americans

WASHINGTON — The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) submitted comments to the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) urging the panel to maintain and enhance dairy’s role as a core component of a recommended healthy diet for Americans. IDFA also urged the DGAC to restore dairy to its draft conclusions on dietary patterns associated with favorable outcomes for body weight and obesity in adults. The DGAC—a committee of 20 nationally recognized nutrition and public health experts—is currently reviewing the current body of nutrition science and developing a scientific report to inform the federal government’s development of the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). The DGAC is expected to publish their report in late 2024.

In written comments, IDFA highlighted the latest science demonstrating dairy is a key component of healthy eating patterns associated with better health outcomes. IDFA noted that the preponderance of scientific evidence contradicts the outdated DGA recommendation that Americans avoid dairy at higher fat levels. IDFA also highlighted how the variety of dairy products that are available to Americans provide options for nearly every person to access dairy nutrition as part of healthy, and health-promoting, diet because of the growth in lactose-free dairy products. Finally, IDFA voiced concern that the DGAC would remove dairy from a draft conclusion statement about dietary patterns associated with favorable outcomes for body weight and obesity in adults, a change from previous DGAC reports that is not supported by science. 

“There is an overwhelming body of science demonstrating dairy nutrition is essential and delivers multiple health benefits,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO, IDFA. “The arguments against dairy fat are no longer legitimate. And the widespread availability of lactose-free milk and dairy, which is exploding in popularity, means dairy is more accessible than ever to all people and all dietary needs. Avoidance of dairy may result in lower intake of nutrients that are essential for good health and may exacerbate some health conditions that are more prevalent among communities of color. We don’t want to see the DGAC contribute to that avoidance; instead, it is the responsibility of the DGAC to recommend foods such as dairy that support healthy diets for all people.” 

In the draft conclusion statement presented at the DGAC public meeting in January, dairy was not included in the dietary patterns associated with favorable outcomes for body weight and obesity in adults. This is a significant change from the 2020 DGAC conclusion statement.

“Dairy products are an unparalleled source of essential nutrients that support health across all life stages,” said Roberta Wagner, senior vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs, IDFA. “We urge the DGAC to recognize the comprehensive scientific evidence supporting the inclusion of dairy, including full-fat options, in their report to inform the development of the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Ensuring a variety of dairy products are accessible to everyone will promote healthier dietary patterns and better health outcomes nationwide.”

Inclusion of Higher Fat Dairy Products

For many years, Americans have been urged to reduce their intake of saturated fats to help promote heart health and reduce the risk of other negative long-term health consequences. However, a significant and growing body of science has demonstrated that not all saturated fat has the same health effects. Recent research shows full-fat dairy products can have neutral or positive health effects, challenging the traditional emphasis on low-fat dairy. IDFA’s comments referenced more than 40 studies demonstrating that full-fat dairy products are not linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and can be associated with favorable growth, body composition, and lower risk of obesity in children.

“We urge the DGAC to consider the health effects of milkfat from dairy products separately from other food sources of saturated fat, and also consider the saturated fat derived from dairy subgroups such as milk, cheese and yogurt,” said Wagner.

Accessibility of Dairy Products for All Americans

While all groups of Americans do not consume sufficient levels of dairy to meet the recommendations of the 2020-2025 DGA, unfortunately, Black, Latinx, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders tend to consume even less than Americans as a whole. 

Some of this underconsumption may be a result of Americans, particularly those in the BIPOC community, feeling that they cannot consume dairy due to lactose intolerance or because it is not appropriate in their culture. IDFA’s comments emphasized the wide variety of dairy products available to Americans, that work to ensure that nearly every person can access the nutritional benefits of dairy. This includes lactose-free and lactose-reduced options, which address the needs of those with lactose intolerance, and offer a range of fat levels to suit different dietary preferences and health needs. 

“Dairy companies have made a purposeful choice to expand lactose-free dairy at food retail and foodservice establishments to respond to the needs expressed by the communities they serve,” said Wagner. “The proliferation of lactose-free milk and dairy options in the U.S. marketplace provides the DGAC a unique opportunity to recognize a need to improve nutrition education and awareness of these new choices.”

“The 2020-2025 DGAs included a recommendation that lactose-free dairy products are part of the dairy group and lactose-free dairy products are important options within federal nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). To ensure that Americans concerned about their ability to consume lactose and dairy are still able to benefit from the nutrition provided by dairy foods, we ask that the 2025-2030 Scientific Report emphasize the availability of lactose-free dairy products and the education required to improve dairy consumption among vulnerable communities.” 

IDFA’s comments to the 2025 DGAC can be viewed here. For more information about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, visit here.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports more than 3.2 million jobs that generate $49 billion in direct wages and $794 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 most 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.

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