Re-examination of dairy as a single commodity in US dietary guidance

Elizabeth T. Jacobs, Janet A. Foote, Lindsay N. Kohler, Meghan B. Skiba, Cynthia A. Thomson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Dairy products have been a key component of dietary guidance in the United States for more than 100 years. In light of major advances in the understanding of dietary intake and metabolism, the aim of this review was to examine whether dairy should remain a single commodity in federal guidance. Considerations include recognizing that a substantial proportion of the world's adult population (65%-70%) exhibits lactase nonpersistence, a reduced ability to metabolize lactose to glucose and galactose. Shifts in the US population, including a greater proportion of African Americans and Asians, are of key importance because several studies have shown a markedly higher prevalence of lactase nonpersistence and, consequently, a lower dairy intake among these groups. While cow's milk alternatives are available, families who use them will pay up to an additional $1400 per year compared with those who are able to consume dairy products. Dietary guidance also contains downstream effects for government assistance, such as the US Department of Agriculture's National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. For reasons like these, Canada has recently removed dairy as a separate food group in national dietary guidance. The results of the present review suggest that consideration of this modification when developing population-level guidelines in the United States is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-234
Number of pages10
JournalNutrition reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Dairy
  • RDA
  • dietary guidelines for Americans
  • food guidance
  • milk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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