We are encouraged by the recent news that USDA included yogurt in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Yogurt can play a role in improving access to nutrition at critical life stages and for vulnerable population groups. However, 90% of Americans eat less than 1 cup of yogurt per week. We believe that Americans’ health can benefit from consuming one nonfat or lowfat yogurt every day.
As part of the WIC packages, yogurt will bring important nutrients to pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and young children at critical life stages. The American diet is lacking in calcium, potassium and vitamin D, nutrients found in yogurt that contribute to optimal growth and development of children and are also critical for establishing bone mineral density in teens and young adults.1 Development of bone mass can be difficult when dairy foods are self-restricted because of perceived lactose intolerance.2 Because yogurt is more easily digested by some, due to an average lower lactose content and the presence of lactase producing cultures, it can serve as an important source of critical nutrients. This was a key reason cited in the USDA WIC final rule to include yogurt as a desirable alternative for WIC participants who might not consume sufficient fluid milk due to lactose intolerance or other reasons.3
The new WIC rule requires yogurt to meet the standards of identity for plain, lowfat or nonfat — allowing for whole milk yogurt only for children under 2 years of age — or flavored with less than or equal to 40 grams of total sugar per 8-ounce cup. As part of its commitment to the Partnership for a Healthier America, Dannon recently announced its pledge to reduce total sugar in Dannon products by 2016 to 23 grams or less per 6-ounce serving in 100% of children-directed products and in 70% of products overall. The 23 grams per 6 ounces equates to 30 grams total sugar per 8 ounces, thus much lower than the WIC maximum of 40 grams total sugar per 8-ounce serving.
Regular consumption of yogurt is associated with a balanced diet4 and has the practical benefit of helping to build healthy dietary patterns. The versatility and likeability of yogurt, its practical usage in a variety of meal occasions, and its appeal across age groups and cultures is what sets it apart as a realistic option to make a difference in building healthy dietary patterns. We look forward to being a part of the difference yogurt can make for WIC.
1Shivani Sahni, Katherine L. Tucker, Douglas P. Kiel, Lien Quach, Virginia A. Casey, Marian T. Hannan. Milk and yogurt consumption are linked with higher bone mineral density but not with hip fracture: the Framingham Offspring Study. Arch Osteoporosis (2013)
2Matlik L, Savaiano D, McCabe G, VanLoan M, Blue CL, Boushey CJ. Perceived milk intolerance is related to bone mineral content in 10- to 13-year-old female adolescents. Pediatrics 2007;120:e669–677.
3Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC): Revisions in the WIC Food Packages. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, 7 CFR Part 246. March 2014.
4Wang H, Livingston KA, Fox CS, Meigs JB, and Jacques PF. Yogurt consumption is associated with better diet quality and metabolic profile in American men and women. Nutrition Research, January 2013 Jan;33(1):18-26.
The American Society for Nutrition and the Danone Institute International recently released an infographic, through their joint Yogurt in Nutrition Initiative (YINI), depicting how yogurt can help play a role in improving dairy consumption in young adults. “Despite eating practices and lifestyles differing throughout the world, dietary guidance for dairy food consumption is surprisingly consistent,” according to Sharon Donovan, Ph.D., YINI co-chair. Yet, across the globe, the majority of people simply aren’t eating enough dairy to meet their countries’ daily recommendations.
On June 12, the National Hispanic Medical Association is bringing together distinguished members from the Hispanic, Black and Asian Pacific American Congressional Caucuses’ Health Care Task Forces to hear from leading experts from the government, NGO’s and academia addressing early childhood health and nutrition disparities. Expected speakers include Dr. Robert Murray, Professor of Human Nutrition at Ohio State University, who will focus on the imperative of nutrition interventions during early childhood development and their impact on changing and preventing lifetime health disparities. If you’re in the Washington, DC area on June 12, you’re welcome to attend. Click here for more details.