Anxiety disorders affect up to one-third of the populations in the United States and Europe based on survey results. National Dairy Council’s (NDC) team of researchers and health and wellness professionals examines these trends to see if there is an opportunity to explore science-based solutions, including those that include dairy.

Checkoff-led research indicates consumers are increasingly seeking ways to ease anxiety, including food-based options. It’s well-established that nutrition is one of many factors that can impact a person’s mental health, and when it comes to dairy’s role in lessening anxiety, recent findings show some potential. Results of observational research indicate there may be an association between dairy foods and a neutral to beneficial impact on alleviating anxiety.

The research, which received NDC funding, examined 132 studies of various dietary patterns, including 19 specific to dairy food consumption and anxiety. Dairy consumption was significantly associated with a lower risk of anxiety in seven studies, while the remaining 12 showed no significant (or neutral) associations. There was no indication that dairy consumption elevated anxiety.

This scientific literature review, conducted by independent experts, was published in the PLOS ONE journal in December. The PLOS network publishes peer-reviewed research articles with expert commentary and analysis and is a resource for health and wellness professionals.

So, what’s it all mean for us?

We see potential, but we are far from moving forward with a consumer-facing campaign touting dairy’s role related to anxiety. NDC has built a respected century-long reputation in the health and wellness community because we lead with sound science and research. And that research is never rushed or compromised.

This review is valuable because it evaluated the totality of the current scientific evidence and identified a beneficial relationship, providing a reason to consider further exploration in the future. It also may spark scientists to explore this relationship independent of what the dairy checkoff may fund. Exploratory research such as this gives us confidence in the investments we may make in this area for farmers and consumers. It’s an important first step in the process of building more proof points of dairy’s important role in healthy diets while introducing some previously unknown benefits.

Being able to produce good science that aligns with consumer needs is an important way to keep dairy foods and health top of mind with people who are seeking foods to help hem lead a healthier life.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2024
February 19, 2024
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