With a heightened focus on health and wellness, establishing healthy eating patterns is more important than ever. Good health begins during pregnancy, and research is emphasizing the role nutrition plays even in the earliest days of life.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 expansion to include recommendations for pregnancy and early childhood affirms the importance of these key life stages, identifying them as opportunities to address unique nutritional needs. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics says failure to provide adequate nutrition during a child's first 1,000 days could lead to lifelong deficits in brain function.
Eating patterns established during childhood will influence food and beverage choices made throughout life. These habits can impact health outcomes in adulthood such as risk for obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. With greater focus on nutritional needs during pregnancy and early childhood, there is opportunity to reinforce the important role of milk and dairy foods in daily food choices and overall eating patterns for these life stages, providing a foundation for healthy eating habits.
Milk and dairy foods provide essential nutrients needed to nourish growing bodies and support optimal growth and development. Dairy foods’ unique package of nutrients work together to create health benefits for people of all age groups, especially young children who need adequate nourishment to ensure they can grow optimally and reach their full potential. Milk and dairy foods are a nutritious, widely available option that positively contribute to overall dietary patterns, supporting long-term health and well-being.
Milk and dairy foods play an important role in healthy eating patterns across the lifespan. By emphasizing the critical role dairy foods play during pregnancy and the earliest years of life, the dairy community has an opportunity to support children from the very beginning, creating a foundation of good health that will continue for a lifetime.