Study Reveals Reasons Why Some Americans Lack Adequate Dairy Nutrition, Offers Roadmap to Better Diet Quality

Many Americans recognize dairy as a cornerstone of a healthy diet but continue to fall short of the recommended daily intake as endorsed by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. An in-depth consumer survey released on Thursday (16 May 2024) by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) and supported by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers’ Federation (NMPF), examines barriers to dairy nutrition in mix. Americans and how to remove them.

The report provides a roadmap for how industry, government, and health and nutrition groups can improve awareness and access to lactose-free milk and dairy products; broaden understanding of the nutritional value of dairy; and working with the dairy industry to extend shelf life and improve the value of dairy purchases for consumers.

The report draws on the beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes of Black, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Non-Hispanic White consumers toward dairy.

Key Data Points:

  • Missed Opportunities for Lactose Free: Nearly two in three Americans say they have never consumed lactose-free milk (64%), lactose-free flavored milk (76%), or other lactose-free dairy products other than milk (68%). The rate of non-consumption is more than half among Latino, Black, and Asian/Pacific Islander communities, indicating low awareness among groups reporting higher rates of lactose sensitivity.
  • Affordability is a Key Factor for both SNAP and Non-SNAP Households: About 30% of all races and ethnicities at all income levels cite affordability as a reason for drinking milk.
  • Expiration Dates and “Passive Avoidance” of Top Barriers: Concerns about spoilage before use (19%), are the main reason why consumers avoid milk. Meanwhile, 37% of respondents cited no specific reason for limiting dairy consumption, suggesting “passive avoidance” that could be overcome with more media, healthcare and community outreach. Self-reported lactose sensitivities also contribute to higher levels of avoidance.
  • Best Buy Drivers Taste and Health, Cheese Rules Supreme: Cheese is the most frequently consumed dairy product (90% weekly), followed by butter (85%), milk (75%), and yogurt (60%). Taste is overwhelmingly the number one factor for consumers to buy cheese, yogurt and milk, followed by dairy as a good source of protein. Health benefits cited include bone health being the most recognized (90%), with other benefits including immune system support (65%) and heart health (54%).

Spotlight on Attitude-Consumption Disconnect

The study “Exploring Fluid Milk & Dairy Food Consumption Patterns to Improve Diet Quality and Nutritional Equity” reveals a disconnect between consumer perception and actual dairy intake. Although a strong majority (78%) of Americans believe that dairy is essential, many are not taking advantage of its benefits.

“Good nutrition is the foundation of health and wellness for adults and children across all demographics, and dairy is a critical part of a healthy diet starting at a young age,” said Michelle Matto, MPH, RDN , associate vice president of regulatory affairs. and nutrition, IDFA. “This survey shows that consumers value dairy for nutrition and taste but may lack sufficient information or access to the types of dairy that are right for them and their families. It shows that dairy must expand its partnerships with communities of color, health and nutrition experts, and policymakers to remove barriers that prevent Americans from getting adequate dairy nutrition, including quality protein , calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and health benefits. including better bone health and lower risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

Moving on

The survey shows the clear need for greater education efforts, said Miquela Hanselman, NMPF director of regulatory affairs.

“IFIC’s research provides data behind the importance of dairy nutrition and the need for better education about the dairy options available and the benefits they provide,” said Hanselman. “When discussing the next Dietary Guidelines, it is important that this information is communicated clearly and strongly to everyone who could benefit from it, from consumers who need dairy nutrition to policy makers determined by federal programs.”

IFIC’s research highlights the importance of targeted outreach programs to improve the overall quality of nutrition and achieve greater nutritional equity.

“Although dairy is an under-consumed food group among many Americans, families eligible for BIPOC and SNAP may benefit the most from hearing more about the health benefits of consistent dairy consumption. Education and outreach efforts tailored to increase awareness and availability of lactose-free dairy foods and beverages, as well as emphasizing the benefits of dairy beyond bone health for all, create new opportunities,” said President & IFIC CEO Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN. “Increased dairy consumption among all populations can positively contribute to improved diet quality and nutritional equity—availability, accessibility, and affordability—goals that support improved health for all Americans.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *