A few weeks ago, the Committee on Nutrition of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released an updated statement called, “Optimizing Bone Health in Children and Adolescents.”1 As the Advisory Committee deliberates on new Dietary Guidelines (DGA) for 2015, AAP’s bone health statement should remind them how important the emphasis and tone of the final report can be on the health of future generations.
The typical dietary pattern of the American child steadily weakens with age. One fundamental cause is dwindling consumption of dairy, replaced by energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods and beverages. On the other hand, our strong national nutrition programs are a powerful antidote, particularly those that reach children and adolescents, such as WIC and school meals. Along with supplying three-fourths of the daily recommended calcium intake, a good source of protein and most of the Vitamin D in the American diet, dairy is the primary source in the food supply for potassium, a critical nutrient to counter sodium’s role in hypertension.
The recent decision to include yogurt as an option in WIC food packages will increase dairy consumption, especially in ethnic populations with high levels of lactose intolerance. Similar flexibility in access to a variety of dairy products should be encouraged in all nutrition safety net programs.
The DGA are more than just recommendations: they represent guidance for how to approach nutrition programs and policy to achieve our public health goals. Bone health is just one vivid example of how critical that responsibility can be.
Since its inception in 1974, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children has contributed improvements in health of program participants. Over the years, the WIC package has changed to fit the needs of recipients. Today’s package contains items that are consistent with current science-based dietary guidance, and offers more healthy choices including fruits, vegetables, yogurt and additional whole grain and fish options.
WIC is currently offered in all 50 states and beyond, and is made available through 1,900 local agencies and 10,000 clinic sites. By making nutrient-rich food options available to more people across the country, WIC will continue to impact the lifestyles of women, infants and children for the next 40 years and beyond.
The Dannon Company is thrilled that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has designated yogurt as the official state snack of New York. Yogurt is a portable, convenient, nutrient-rich food that can help New Yorkers and all Americans build better eating habits.
Our company was founded in New York State, and that is where we are still headquartered as the largest yogurt maker in the United States, offering a variety of yogurt for all tastes and preferences.
We can only hope that making yogurt the official state snack of New York will help raise awareness of the health benefits of yogurt among New Yorkers and improve the state of the American diet.
On Nov. 20, the Food Innovation Center at The Ohio State University will explore the current state of the American diet and provide an in-depth look at the development and implications of the 2015 dietary guidelines. Leaders in health and nutrition will discuss food as a driver of positive health outcomes, review successful public health behavior change implementations and share consumer food innovation ideas from the food industry and institutional settings. Click here to view the agenda and register today. Unable to attend in person? The event will also be streamed online through a live webcast.