Communication efforts need to be redoubled to ensure that the public is aware of the health benefits of milk and milk product consumption, says the International Dairy Federation.
While considerable research has been conducted into the benefits of dairy for the reduction of chronic disease including osteoporosis, hypertension, some forms of cancer, kidney stones and obesity, some consumers may veer away from it, particularly if they are trying to stick to a low-fat diet.
Impact on dairy sales
Moreover, some people’s belief that they suffer from lactose intolerance may take a toll on dairy sales. Whether or not lactose intolerance is a physical condition, and whether all people who think they suffer from it actually do, are matters of debate among scientists, but increasing numbers of people are choosing to avoid it after linking it to certain symptoms.
"The benefits of adequate intake of dairy foods in providing nutrition and health to consumers is an important message for the dairy industry worldwide," said IDF’s Greg Miller.
The federation believes that communicating the benefits of three portions of dairy a day should be a joint effort by government agencies, health professionals, media – and, of course, the industry itself.
“Dairy can improve the quality of life for people and the industry should make sure everyone is aware of it,” said Miller.
Reduction in healthcare costs
Governments, in particular, may be inclined to take on board the message since there are indications that promoting dairy can lead to a reduction in healthcare costs:
A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension in 2004 (McCarron and Heaney, 15,88-97) estimated that if Americans stuck to the recommended three to four portions a day, healthcare costs could be reduced by more than $200bn in five years. - (Decision News Media, October 2006)
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