Following last week’s release of the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, IDFA continues to analyze the potential impact of the report’s recommendations on dairy foods. The overall good news is that the committee placed an emphasis on eating and drinking a variety of nutrient-dense foods and urged Americans to consume more lowfat and fat-free dairy.
The nutrients of concern for under-consumption remained the same as in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines: vitamin D, calcium, potassium and fiber, and the report noted that dairy products are good sources of vitamin D, calcium and potassium. Saturated fat and sodium were mentioned as nutrients that many Americans are over-consuming.
The report also noted that consumption of dairy is associated with lower risk of a number of chronic diseases and conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. As with past Dietary Guidelines, the committee’s emphasis is on fat-free and lowfat dairy options.
Perhaps the biggest change is the committee’s focus on three eating-pattern models that it believes could serve as the basis for healthy food choices that would help Americans reduce the risk of chronic diseases. The models are the Healthy U.S.-style Pattern, which is based on the MyPlate recommendations in the 2010 guidelines; the Healthy Mediterranean-style Pattern; and the Healthy Vegetarian Pattern. Each model includes dairy foods as part of the eating pattern, but the U.S.-style and Vegetarian Patterns include three daily servings while the Mediterranean-style Pattern includes two servings of dairy per day.
Nutrients Drop When Dairy Is Replaced
Looking at diets that did not include dairy foods, the committee found that the intake of a number of essential nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin A, riboflavin, potassium and vitamin D, dropped below recommended levels, in some cases substantially. The report also identified concerns with lower nutrient intake and diet quality when milk specifically is replaced by other beverages, such as soft drinks, fruit drinks and sports beverages.
However, the report raised concerns about overall cheese intake, including cheese when it is served as part of mixed dishes, such as sandwiches and cheeseburgers. The committee suggested that Americans could shift their dairy intake to include more lowfat and fat-free milk to raise levels of shortfall nutrients and less cheese to decrease levels of saturated fat and sodium found in some cheeses.
Sodium Level Stays the Same
While the report identified sodium as a nutrient that is currently too high in American diets, the committee left the recommended limit on sodium intake at 2300 mg per day, rather than lower it further. The report also continued the 2010 recommendation to consume less saturated fat, saying Americans should get no more than 10 percent of their calories from foods containing saturated fat.
The committee indicated that Americans should lower their consumption of added sugars to no more than 10 percent of their daily calorie intake. When it examined the sources of added sugars, the committee found that sweetened dairy products, such as flavored milk and yogurt, only provide 4 percent of the added sugars in the American diet.
In addition to looking at eating patterns and adequate nutrient intake, the report reviewed the importance of physical activity in promoting health.
For the first time, the committee chose to consider sustainability while crafting its recommendations. This effort has generated a good deal of controversy because Congress stipulated that the Dietary Guidelines process should be based on sound nutrition science and not focused on issues such as environmentally related recommendations. Congress also has directed the Secretary of Agriculture only to include nutrition and dietary information, not extraneous factors.
Report Will Have Far-Reaching Effects
While the report does not immediately change any existing government recommendations, it will have a significant impact on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which will be written and released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services by the end of 2015. The Dietary Guidelines serves as the basis for federal nutrition programs such as school meals and for nutrition communication from the government.
Also, the report encouraged federal regulators and legislators to put policies in place that would be consistent with these recommendations, such as including the labeling of added sugars in the Nutrition Facts panel.
The deadline for written comments on the 571-page report is April 8, 2015. IDFA plans to submit comments to USDA and HHS and has joined other trade associations in requesting a120-day extension. Oral comments will be accepted at a public meeting on March 24, and IDFA will request an opportunity to speak.
Members with questions may contact Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Michelle Matto, IDFA’s nutrition and labeling consultant, at email@example.com.