News & Resources

Dietary Guidelines Committee Reaffirms Dairy as Key to Healthy Diet

August 4, 2020

NMPF said it was pleased that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s final report released July 15 reaffirms dairy’s crucial role in a nutritious diet but expressed concern that the committee failed to recognize newer, broader science that shows the benefits of dairy foods at all fat levels.

“The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee restated what consumers already know – that regular dairy consumption offers essential nutrition that nourishes people throughout their lives,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Across different types of diets and throughout all stages of life, dairy products provide the nutrients people need to be healthy.”

But Mulhern said it was disappointing that the committee largely reflected long-held assumptions on saturated fat, despite numerous studies that have called traditional anti-fat guidance into question.

“We repeatedly called on the committee to take a fresh look at multiple studies that show beneficial or neutral effects of dairy on chronic disease risk at all fat levels,” Mulhern said. “Unfortunately, the DGAC report does not reflect this newer science.”

The DGAC’s final scientific advisory report, submitted to the secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, notes that Americans overall need more dairy in their diets, with 88 percent of them falling short of recommendations. That figure includes 79 percent of 9-13-year-olds, who rely heavily on the school-lunch program to meet nutritional needs. The report also highlights dairy’s unique place as a provider of key nutrients that otherwise would be under-consumed in American diets.

  • Dairy is recommended for consumption within all three healthy eating patterns featured in the report, with three servings per day recommended in the Healthy U.S. style eating pattern and Healthy Vegetarian Style patterns and two servings per day in the Healthy-Mediterranean pattern;
  • The committee recognized milk as a nutrient-rich beverage that contributes positively to under-consumed nutrients, including potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins A and D, and others. Dairy was also recognized as a source of iodine, a nutrient of public health concern for pregnant women;
  • Low-fat and nonfat dairy foods are recommended as nutrient-dense building blocks of a healthy diet; and
  • In the committee’s first-ever recommendations for birth through 24 months, yogurt and cheese are recognized as complementary feeding options for infants ages 6-12 months, and dairy foods (milk, cheese and yogurt) are included in healthy eating patterns for toddlers 12-24 months.

The scientific report recommendations will be used to develop the new dietary guidelines which are expected to be released by the end of the year. NMPF will be submitting written comments on the report, which are due August 13, and is leading a call-to-action campaign to thank the panel for its work while sharing farmer concerns. Dairy supporters can join the campaign here.