The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation separately applauded the Dec. 29 release of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). The guidelines affirm that dairy products will maintain their historically important role in federal nutrition recommendations, Washington, D.C.-based IDFA said, including recommending most Americans consume three servings of dairy each day.

The report was published by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services after nearly two years of review, evaluation and discussion by a committee of scientific and nutritional experts, IDFA noted. For the first time, the 2020-2025 DGAs include recommendations for children younger than 2 years of age. These new recommendations make dairy foods an important part of a healthy diet for young children from 6 months to 24 months of age. From 12-23 months of age, the DGAs recommend “higher fat versions of dairy … compared to patterns for ages 2 and older,” including whole milk.

The guidelines go on to make a key recommendation to American adolescents and adults to consume more fat-free and low-fat dairy as part of a healthy diet, IDFA said. Dairy provides 11 essential nutrients; however, as the guidelines note, dairy is an under-consumed food category. Increasing consumption of dairy will contribute to meeting recommended intakes of protein, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and vitamins A and D, according the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

The report points out that about 90% of the U.S. population does not meet dairy recommendations and concludes that, “Individuals should be encouraged to make shifts to increase the intake of vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, and dairy to move intakes of these under-consumed dietary components closer to recommendations.” 

“The Dietary Guidelines confirm what the overwhelming body of science has been telling us for years — that dairy is one of the most nutritious foods available to people of all ages,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA. “So, pick up a glass of milk. Tear off the lid to your favorite yogurt. Cut off a piece of cheese.

“The scientists and experts agree that Americans need to consume more dairy to meet federal nutrition recommendations,” he added. “We also applaud the federal government and the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for making dairy central in new recommendations for children 6 through 24 months of age. Let’s build on this report to make dairy central in the diets of all Americans once again.”

For its part, Arlington, Va.-based NMPF pledged to continue efforts to broaden consideration of the latest science on dairy fats in the next examination of the federal guidelines, which are released twice each decade.

“USDA and HHS deserve praise for once again recognizing just how vital dairy is to the nation’s health and wellbeing,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We encourage them to affirm that role even more clearly in the next iteration of the Dietary Guidelines, to reflect the positive contribution of dairy fats in diets that’s increasingly recognized in a growing body of evidence.”

The DGAs have significant implications for numerous government policy areas, including guiding the types of milk served in school meal programs and setting the parameters for how nutrition programs are implemented and developed, NMPF noted.