Dairy products bring a host of healthy attributes to American diets. That is why the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with USDA, reconfirmed that everyone benefits from eating three daily servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products. While we should celebrate this achievement, so much more could be done leading up to 2020 when the two federal departments revamp the next set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Dairy continued to secure its own position in nutrient guidelines because people don't consume enough of some beneficial vitamins and minerals distinctly found in dairy. That observation can be confirmed with a review of bone health.

Scientists noted that 15 percent of women suffer from osteoporosis . . . brittle and fragile bones due to an inadequate intake of calcium and vitamin D. Once in motion, the condition is extremely difficult to reverse. While the 15 percent figure may not be that alarming, there should be great concern that 51 percent of American women are categorized as having "low bone mass." While these conditions are less prevalent among men, 4 percent of them still suffer from osteoporosis, and 35 percent have low bone mass.

Butter also received a big boost when nutritionists finally removed the nearly half century-long warning against cholesterol consumption. Even so, healthy fat isn't completely back, and that is a battle for another day.

These days, the Dietary Guidelines have become a battleground for political agendas. Some members on the advisory committee wanted to inject statements that some food had negative environmental impacts compared to others. The panel also omitted mentioning the shaky research that suggested certain processed red meats likely cause cancer.

While some Americans barely take notice of the Dietary Guidelines, these recommendations serve as the bedrock for school breakfast and lunch programs along with other government-based food assistance initiatives. That is a big deal for dairy, especially fluid milk sales.

The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans reconfirm that our checkoff money is being well spent as state and national programs continue to fund vital research that brings dairy's positive attributes to the forefront. While we can celebrate these many achievements, the stakes will continue to escalate because those supporting alternative eating options that are negative to dairy and other animal products will continue to push their agendas.

This editorial appears on page 88 of the February 10, 2016 issue of Hoard's Dairyman.

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