It’s a typically government-designed, helpful-looking publication. It’s seldom if ever been considered controversial; in fact, many have never heard of it.
But that’s changing fast.
With surprising suddenness, the upcoming revision of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published every half-decade by the US Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS), is in the news, and for an important reason:
It appears likely to continue, in the next edition, the recommendation that healthy drinks for children from birth through age 5 include breast milk and …whole milk.
That “whole milk” part isn’t going down well with some practitioners in the medical and nutrition health communities, who consider it both outdated and dangerous.
At the July 11, 2019, meeting of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee — who are gathering the updated information that will go into the next edition (Dietary Guidelines for America, 2020-2025) — medical professionals representing the 12,000-member Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) spoke out strongly. Susan Levin, MS, RD, director of nutrition education for PCRM, said:
“The most outdated recommendation by the [current edition of] the Dietary Guidelines is its…push for Americans to consume dairy.” In particular, she noted, “[T]he guidelines promoting cow’s milk are harmful to children.”
Additional PCRM Action
The PCRM, noting that cow’s milk is the number-1 source of saturated fat in children’s diets, also issued a demand that the American Heart Association (AHA) withdraw its widely distributed recommendation that very young children drink cow’s milk as well as breast milk. Most recently, that recommendation appeared in the AHA’s “Healthy Drinks, Healthy Kids” program.
Then there’s the National Dairy Council (NDC). Levin has pointed out that “these new guidelines on preferred beverages for children that favored milk were funded in part by the dairy industry.” There exists a potentially unsavory connection of the AHA to the NDC, which has paid the AHA substantial sums annually in turn for being listed on AHA’s Industry Nutrition Forum.
What’s so possibly bad about that? A reasonable question — until you discover that the AHA removed the NDC listing when the PCRM publicly revealed that the AHA had helped develop a just-published report, “Health Beverage Consumption in Early Childhood,” that also favors dairy milk for children over non-dairy alternatives such as almond milk.
Quid pro quo? We’ll likely never know.
The PCRM has drafted a letter for its members to use to request retraction of this report in view of the harm dairy products can do to children’s health. The letter states that these products “contain saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, estrogens, and lactose, and are linked to type 1 diabetes, certain cancers, and other problems.” It continues: “For the first six months of life, infants do not need any nourishment other than breast milk or formula….There is no need for infants to consume cow’s milk.”
Expect this important controversy to continue now that it’s out in the open. And rejoice in having yet another reason to be glad you’re vegan.