Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released today the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These new Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans increase their intake of low-fat and fat-free dairy products to reach three servings of dairy for adults, two and one-half servings of dairy for children between the ages of four and eight and two servings for children ages two and three.
"IDFA applauds the updated guidelines for their focus on choosing nutrient-rich foods and emphasis on calorie balance for weight management," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "Our members will continue to provide consumers with a variety of milk and dairy products that are part of a healthy diet."
The number of servings for children four to eight years of age was increased from the previous two servings a day. The Guidelines also highlight foods and nutrients that American's should limit, including sodium, solid fats (such as saturated fat and trans fat), cholesterol and added sugars. To help curb the obesity epidemic and improve health, the Guidelines encourage people to consume nutrient-rich foods, decrease calorie intake and increase physical activity.
"The recommendation that individuals should increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, as part of a healthy eating plan is a very positive message for the dairy industry," said Cary Frye, IDFA vice president for regulatory and scientific affairs. "The new guidance provides a framework for healthy eating that limits sodium, saturated fat and added sugars in the daily diet, but still provides for many dairy products options."
Dairy Foods Provide Nutrients of Concern
Dairy foods are some of the top sources of calcium, vitamin D and potassium, which are identified by the Dietary Guidelines as nutrients of concern in the American diet. The Guidelines stress the importance of nutrient-rich foods, defined as foods without added sugar and with low levels of sodium and solid fat. For practical implementation, fat-free chocolate milk is mentioned as an example of a good way of using added sugar to increase the palatability and consumption of a nutrient-rich food. Another recommendation encourages a gradual switch to lower-fat versions of dairy products, which would include fluid milk, yogurt and cheese.
In addition to recommendations about specific foods and nutrients, the Dietary Guidelines outline how consumers should put the principles for healthy eating into action in a variety of meal patterns, which include dairy foods, as part of the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet that includes milk and eggs and the Dietary Approach for Stopping Hypertension (DASH) diet. For Americans who need to avoid lactose, the Guidelines also recommend reduced-lactose and lactose-free dairy products as the first choice for consuming the wide variety of nutrients provided by dairy.
Federal Feeding Programs Align with Guidelines
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are the official recommendations of the federal government about how Americans should eat. Federal programs, including school meals, are required to align with the current version of the Dietary Guidelines, which could affect the foods served in those programs.
The U.S.Department of Agriculture's food patterns define milk and milk products (also referred to as dairy products) to include all milks, lactose-free and lactose-reduced products yogurts, frozen yogurts, dairy desserts, cheeses and fortified soy beverages. However, cream, sour cream and cream cheese were not included as part of the dairy group due to their low calcium content. Although the Guidelines say most choices should be fat-free or low-fat, practical strategies for implementing the recommendations acknowledge that when selecting cheese, reduced-fat versions are included. Similar to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, this version states that one serving of dairy is equivalent to one cup of milk or yogurt, one and one-half ounces of natural cheese and two ounces of processed cheese or one cup of fortified soy beverage.
IDFA will continue to analyze the impact of the Guidelines on dairy foods. For more information, contact Frye at (202) 220-3543.
IDFA is a member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation and supports First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative. Through research and innovation, IDFA members are providing products such as lower-sodium and reduced-fat cheeses and flavored milk and yogurts with less added sugar that are easy to find in the marketplace.