The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) convened for its fourth meeting earlier this month to discuss nutritional research that can serve as the basis for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Each subcommittee presented its work to date, including a list of studies consulted and draft conclusions. Overall, dairy garnered a good deal of attention, both positive and negative.
The DGAC is focusing on overall dietary patterns, looking at the whole array of foods and beverages people consume and the health outcomes associated with these dietary patterns. The committee’s final report is expected before the end of this year, with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to be released by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services by the end of 2015.
The inclusion of dairy in healthy eating patterns, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, was mentioned as a positive for dairy. The importance of dairy foods for children was also called out.
However, full-fat dairy was identified as associated with the development of some health conditions. At times, committee members seemed to question the importance of dairy; one asked whether there is evidence that the low consumption of dairy products actually poses a threat to public health.
Some questioned the number of servings of dairy that Americans need for a healthy diet, saying not all healthy eating patterns that include dairy call for the currently recommended three daily servings. Lactose intolerance also was raised again as a concern by a committee member.
Nutrients of Concern and Sustainability
The DGAC’s draft list of nutrients of concern due to underconsumption by Americans is the same as the final list in the 2010 DGAC report: potassium, fiber, calcium and vitamin D. Of these, potassium, calcium and vitamin D are all supplied by dairy products. Saturated fat and sodium were identified as nutrients of concern due to overconsumption by Americans.
The committee also continued its discussion of the sustainability of the U.S. food supply. The last meeting focused on plant-based diets as the most sustainable option, but these diets could still contain dairy options.
In addition to nutrition research, the DGAC also has considered a significant volume of public comments, including a number of comments from IDFA and other dairy organizations. In addition to IDFA, the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), Dairy Management Inc. and the National Milk Producers Federation presented oral comments at the DGAC meeting in March.
The organizations also submitted written comments on a variety of topics, including industry work to formulate dairy products that are lower in fat, sodium and added sugar; sustainability efforts by the dairy industry; and the role of dairy products in a number of health conditions, such as cardiovascular health, bone health, diabetes and obesity.
The slides presented by each subcommittee are now available, along with a significant amount of other materials, on the Dietary Guidelines website, www.dietaryguidelines.gov. The next meeting of the DGAC will be held September 16-17 and will be available for viewing via webinar.
Members with questions may contact Michelle Matto, IDFA’s consultant on nutrition and labeling, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-431-6864.