A cornerstone nutritional report which will inform the next five years of federal dietary guidance has been criticized for failing to warn against the dangers of dairy consumption.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee's (DGAC) scientific report, which was compiled the Committee's 20 health expert members, reviews the latest dietary and nutrition research.
It will be used by the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
'Fails to address health conditions'
While the report was praised for recommending that Americans should opt for carbohydrate-rich plant-based foods instead of saturated fat-laden red and processed meat, it came under fire for ignoring that dairy products are the leading source of saturated fat in the American diet.
The DGAC's report says: "Two to three cups of total Dairy foods are recommended for consumption each day; the recommendation is three cups for most age-sex groups, regardless of activity level."
According to health group the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), which advocates a plant-based diet, although the DGAC 'says high-fat dairy is associated with type 2 diabetes', the report 'fails to address many other health conditions linked to dairy products'.
PCRM says: "Scientific evidence shows that milk and other dairy products increase the risk of asthma, breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers, cognitive decline, and early death, and offer little if any protection for bone health."
In addition, in 2018, the American Medical Association passed a resolution recognizing that lactose intolerance is common among many Americans, especially African Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans, and recommending that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans indicate that 'meat and dairy products are optional'.
For this reason, PCRM - as well as leading plant-based physician Dr. Milton Mills, had previously called on the DGAC to ditch dairy recommendations from the guidelines, with PCRM sending an open letter to health officials saying: "The loss of lactase enzymes after early childhood is the biological norm. Only among whites is lactase persistence common. The National Institutes of Health estimates 95 percent of Asians Americans, 60-80 percent of African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews, 80-100 percent of Native Americans, and 50-80 percent of Hispanics are lactose intolerant."
Dr. Milton Mills raised the issue while speaking to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee last year (see video above). The Committee, which is comprised of nationally recognized nutrition and medical researchers, academics, and practitioners, updates the dietary guidelines every five years. It invites experts to speak and share current scientific and medical evidence in nutrition.
According to Dr. Mills, he has seen illness caused by the committee's guidelines. "The vast majority of people of color in this country are intolerant to the lactose that's in milk. Yet because they think they have to eat this stuff, they go out, eat it, get sick, and think they have some sort of intestinal problem. When I encourage them to stop eating dairy, their problems clear up," he said.
"It's really outrageous to encourage people to eat foods we know will make them sick, particularly when the number one reason advanced for dairy foods is its calcium content. But African American women are genetically protected against getting osteoporosis. So we're making them sick for no good reason."
'Missed the mark'
Speaking about the report, Susan Levin, MS, RD, CSSD, director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, praised the DGAC for recommending plant-based food - but she condemned it for its stance over dairy.
She said: "The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee finally got it right by finding that plant-based foods are beneficial for every health condition and that red and processed meat are beneficial for none.
"But they missed the mark when they failed to warn against dairy products, which are the leading source of saturated fat in the American diet."