Today, the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine released a report recommending nutrition standards be established for "competitive" foods in the school environment, such as a la carte cafeteria items, vending machines and school stores. The National Dairy Council (NDC) applauds the overall recommendations outlined in the report, which promote the consumption of nonfat and low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables and whole grains and limits the amount of saturated fat, salt, added sugars, and total calories. The report includes a specific recommendation for schools to increase the availability of low-fat and nonfat white and flavored milk and yogurt, with modest amounts of added sugars, for all grade levels, throughout the day.
"We're pleased that the report recognizes the important role dairy foods play in contributing valuable nutrients to the diet of children and adolescents," said Ann Marie Krautheim, MA, RD, senior vice president of nutrition affairs at the NDC. "Child health is a dairy industry priority and we're committed to continuing to develop healthy and great-tasting dairy foods that can be enjoyed at school, at home and on-the-go." With child obesity rates on the rise, the new guidelines aim to improve children and adolescent's diets and health.
"This report is a step in the right direction for helping children and adolescents develop lifelong healthy eating habits," said Keith Ayoob, EdD, RD, FADA Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "The report wants to encourage kids to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and especially dairy foods, which give kids three of the five "nutrients of concern" identified by the Dietary Guidelines, specifically, calcium, potassium and magnesium. Kids spend more than half their day in school so it's important that school food and beverage offerings provide the nutrients they need."
Milk and milk products provide more than 70 percent of the calcium consumed by Americans. The Dietary Guidelines recommend children ages 9 and older consume three servings of low-fat or fat-free and milk or milk products each day. And, children ages 2-8 can consume three child-size servings of milk to add up to a total of 2 cups, or equivalent, of dairy foods per day.
Together milk, cheese and yogurt contain nine essential nutrients, and dairy is the number-one source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium in the diets of American children and adolescents.
Adequate calcium intake during childhood and adolescence, by consuming the recommended three servings of dairy a day, may help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures later in life. And, research shows that children who consume recommended amounts of dairy foods have better overall nutrient intakes. However, half of children ages 4-8 and ninety percent of preteen girls and 70 percent of preteen boys (ages 9-13) do not meet current calcium recommendations. Nearly nine out of 10 teenage girls and almost seven out of 10 teenage boys (ages 14-18) don't meet calcium recommendations.