Yogurt: A Bridge to Health Equity

When it comes to obesity in the United States, minority populations seem to be the hardest hit. According to an analysis by the Robert Wood Foundation, African American adults are nearly 1.5 times as likely to be obese compared to White adults. And more than 75 percent of African Americans are overweight or obese compared with 67.2 percent of White adults.1

Unfortunately, overweight and obesity rates are also higher among African American children compared to white children. From 1999 to 2012, 35.1 percent of African American children between the ages 2 to 19 were overweight, compared to 28.5 percent of white children; and 20.2 percent were obese compared to 14.3 percent of white children.1

Income, stable and affordable housing, access to quality education and a host of other factors influence a person’s health status and longevity. These factors, what public health professionals recognize as “social determinants of health”, contribute to higher rates of obesity and associated illness in African American communities.1

During National Minority Health Month each April, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH) leads the nation in raising awareness about these disparities, their causes and the impact they have on minority communities and the nation as a whole.

The theme of this year’s National Minority Health Month observance – Bridging Health Equity Across Communities, emphasizes the collaborative, community-level work being done across the nation to help achieve health equity.

One way Dannon is helping to bridge the health equity gap is by working to make healthier food choices readily available to WIC participants.

The addition of yogurt to the WIC food packages, which began on April 1, 2015, brings important nutrients to pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and young children at critical life stages.

Yogurt is especially well suited for the WIC audience. Most yogurts provide three out of the four nutrients of concern — calcium, potassium and vitamin D — and eating yogurt regularly is associated with less weight gain over time.2,3 Yogurt is also a source of high quality protein, which can help support bone and muscle strength4, and most yogurts contain live and active cultures that help with lactose digestion.5,6

Dannon offers a variety of WIC eligible products to meet WIC participants needs and preferences. And to help support implementation of yogurt in the WIC food package, Dannon provides resources for WIC professionals. You can access all those materials here.

As the nutrition community celebrates minority health month, I encourage you to learn more about how yogurt can bridge the health disparities gap.

Click here for my in-depth discussion on Nutrition and Health Disparities: The Role of Dairy in Improving Minority Health Outcomes.7


Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN
Dannon Nutrition Advisor

1 The State of Obesity. Obesity Prevention in Black Communities. Available at: http://stateofobesity.org/disparities/blacks/. Accessed April 4, 2017.

2 Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, and Hu FB. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. The New England Journal of Medicine, June 2011;364:2392-404.

3 Webb D, Donovan SM, and Meydani SN. The role of yogurt in improving the quality of the American diet and meeting dietary guidelines. Nutrition Reviews 2014; 72:180–189.

3 Webb D, Donovan SM, and Meydani SN. The role of yogurt in improving the quality of the American diet and meeting dietary guidelines. Nutrition Reviews 2014; 72:180–189.

5 Bailey RK, Fileti CP, Keith J, Tropez-Sims S, Price W, Allison-Ottey SD. Lactose intolerance and health disparities among African Americans and Hispanic Americans: An updated consensus statement. J Natl Med Assoc. 2013 Summer;105(2):112-27.

6 Lomer MCE, Parkes GC, Sanderson JD. Review article: lactose intolerance in clinical practice—myths and realities. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2008;27:93–103.

7 Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(1), 28; doi:10.3390/ijerph13010028

Conference Explores the Future of Food Policy

Each year the nutrition community looks forward to the National Food Policy Conference – a forum to examine key food policy issues affecting consumers, the food industry and government, to understand the key priorities in the coming year. This year’s conference examined the future of food policy in America with keynotes and panels specifically addressing hunger and innovative technologies and business models that have the potential to reinvent the food system.

This year, Philippe Caradec, Dannon’s Vice President Corporate Affairs, served as a panelist in a discussion around a “Healthy Dose of Information.” The discussion was centered on food labeling, consumer behavior and what transparency looks like in the context of nutrition information. For more information, you can go to www.consumerfed.org.

Looking Ahead: Building a Healthier Future Summit

This year, Dannon will once again sponsor the Building a Healthier Future Summit taking place May 10 to 12 in Washington, DC. Partnership for Healthy America organizes the summit as part of its commitment to provide Americans with tangible, actionable solutions for making healthy choices. The summit draws prominent corporations and nonprofits who are committed to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to grow up at a healthy weight. This year’s conference will feature notable speakers including Michelle Obama, former First Lady and the PHA Honorary Chair.

At the conference, DanoneWave will share updates on its commitments to PHA including improving nutrient density, reducing fat and sugar, and investing in research and education.

To register, please click here and note that registration closes on May 4. You can also plan to follow the event on Twitter at #PHASummit.

Take the Every Kid Healthy Pledge

Every Kid Healthy Week is an annual celebration of school health and wellness achievements that takes place the last week of April. This year, from April 24 to 28, the Action for Healthy Kids® organization will recognize the work its school partners are doing to improve the health and wellness of their students and promote the link between nutrition, physical activity and learning. Schools all over the country are invited to host an event during the week or any time in April. Materials necessary for conducting and promoting an event are available on Action for Healthy Kids’ website.

Action for Healthy Kids® is also encouraging people to show support for the fight against childhood obesity by taking the Every Kid Healthy Pledge. The organization’s ultimate goal is for “all 130,000+ schools in America to provide healthy foods, quality health and physical education and comprehensive physical activity for all 55 million students by 2030.”