The objective of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) is to promote health and prevent disease in the United States through advice based on sound science. National Dairy Council (NDC) has led a decades-long mission to build science-based evidence on dairy’s health and nutrition benefits, which has aligned with the outcomes of each DGA update. Dairy’s important contributions to a healthy diet were again validated in the 2020-2025 DGA.
The guidance includes dairy in its three eating patterns: Healthy U.S., Healthy Vegetarian and Healthy Mediterranean. Relevant to dairy’s inclusion, the DGA noted that consistent evidence demonstrates these dietary patterns are associated with beneficial outcomes for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, overweightness and obesity, type 2 diabetes, bone health and certain types of cancer (breast and colorectal).
NDC has built a legacy of being a leader of dairy research on behalf of our nation’s farmers in many areas, including those referenced in the DGA. Our research meets the rigorous protocols to be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, which reinforces its credibility and is well received by scientists and health and nutrition professionals.
Impact of the new guidelines
The DGA’s impact should not be overlooked by the broader dairy industry. It serves as the cornerstone of official government guidance on dietary recommendations across the lifespan that is the foundation for school meal programs, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
How significant are these programs? Consider that in 2019, more than 10 billion pounds of fluid milk, 683 million pounds of cheese and 662 million pounds of yogurt and other dairy foods moved through these food assistance programs.
Another note of significance is dairy maintained its own food group, and the recommendation for three daily servings for Americans ages 9 and older continues in the Healthy U.S. and Healthy Vegetarian dietary patterns. This also is something that should not be taken for granted. Some countries don’t call out dairy as its own food group, and others recommend only one to two servings in their guidelines.
Finally, it should be noted that for the first time, recommendations are provided for ages birth to 23 months and for pregnancy and lactation. Yogurt and cheese are recommended as complementary foods starting at age 6 months, and whole milk can be added starting at 12 months. Dairy foods are noted for their iodine, choline and vitamin B12 content during pregnancy and lactation.
Once again, the DGA delivered the good science and good news for dairy overall. As a scientist, I am glad that science won the day.