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IDFA Statement on Leading Scientists’ Consensus Statement on Saturated Fats

A group of established U.S. and international nutrition scientists, including three former members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, have requested the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services give serious and immediate consideration to lifting the limits placed on saturated fat intake for the upcoming 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). Cary Frye, senior vice president of regulatory affairs for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), issued the following statement:

“After intense scrutiny toward the most rigorous scientific data available on the health effects of saturated fats on heart disease and stroke, leading nutrition scientists have recommended lifting the limits placed on saturated fat intake in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Such limits needlessly stand in the way of Americans consuming dairy foods at all fat levels, which are part of a nutritious diet. IDFA supports the group’s recommendation to lift limits of saturated fat intake in the Dietary Guidelines. As the group of scientists noted, ‘The most rigorous and current science fails to support a continuation of the government’s policy limiting consumption of saturated fats.’

“Good nutrition is the foundation of health and wellness for adults and children alike, and dairy is a crucial part of a healthy diet beginning at a very young age. In fact, no other type of food or beverage provides the unique combination of nutrients that dairy contributes to the American diet, including high quality protein, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium, and health benefits including better bone health and lower risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Since the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans was released, scientific evidence as well as dietary advice in other countries have recommended full-fat dairy products as part of dietary patterns.

“Additionally, a growing body of emerging research has shown the role of milkfat in the diet and health is different from saturated fats from other sources. The number of studies on dairy products at a variety of fat levels has expanded since the scientific review during the 2015-2020 DGA process. Whole milk contains the same nutrients as all other fluid milk, including calcium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and niacin. This is true of other dairy products at all fat levels. While they do have higher levels of saturated fat than low fat versions, a growing body of evidence indicates that consumption of full fat dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt is not associated with higher risk of negative health outcomes, including obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

“Moreover, a summary of multiple studies on full fat dairy foods found that the evidence showed no association with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. Some of the studies reviewed showed full fat dairy was associated with lower risk of obesity.”

Additional Background on IDFA’s Recommendations for the 2020 DGA

Cary Frye, senior vice president for regulatory affairs at IDFA, provided the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) with oral testimony at the committee’s fourth meeting in Houston, Texas. IDFA submitted its full set of comments to the DGAC in October 2019, urging the committee to:

  • Keep dairy as a separate food group
  • Recommend that eating patterns should include 3 servings of dairy each day
  • Consider recent science on variety of fat levels in dairy
  • Recommend dairy as complementary foods for infants/toddlers
  • Recommend strategies for dealing with lactose intolerance

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