US - The Senate Agriculture Committee recently approved legislation to enhance the quality of nutrition in federal feeding programs, including provisions that would help reverse the decline of milk consumption in schools and improve the health of America’s children, according to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF).
IDFA and NMPF said almost all age groups consume less dairy than recommended by the newly-released 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), and this legislation offers the opportunity to improve dairy intake among the nation’s youth.
The organisations said the new nutrition bill reflects the latest findings of the DGA, which indicated that consumption of dairy foods provides numerous health benefits, including a lower risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
“Along with dairy’s long-established role in promoting bone health, reducing the risk of insidious chronic diseases and conditions demonstrates why milk is offered with every school meal and dairy foods are prominent parts of other nutrition assistance programs,” said Connie Tipton, president and CEO of IDFA.
Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, said that passage of the legislation: “Will help reverse the trend of declining milk consumption in schools, a trend that unfortunately is in direct conflict with federal Dietary Guidelines, which say children should be drinking more milk for lifelong health.
"If the trend is allowed to continue, it will have serious consequences for children’s health today and throughout their adult lives,” he said. Mr Mulhern noted that from 2012 to 2014, schools served 187 million fewer half-pints of milk, although total public school enrollment grew during that period.
The Senate bill also calls on USDA to address the needs of lactose-intolerant students by offering lactose-free milk through the USDA Foods Program.
The child nutrition reauthorisation bill is now expected to move to the full Senate for consideration. The House has begun consideration of a similar measure but has not approved any legislation so far.
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