• Vulnerable populations benefit from dairy

    By USDEC Staff May 28, 2015

    Stunting affects more than 20 million newborns annually, particularly in Africa and regions of Asia. A growing body of evidence-built in part by more than five years of progressively more focused clinical and scientific research collaboratively developed between USDEC, Dairy Management Inc. and other partners internationally-supports dairy as a key part of the nutritional solution to stunting, demonstrates dairy's superiority over alternative sources of proteins, and outlines how dairy functions to prevent the condition.

    Organizers at the prestigious Experimental Biology Conference asked USDEC to present the latest scientific findings on the role of protein quality, growth and malnutrition and the role of dairy in food aid at this year's event in Boston on March 28-April 1. The three-hour conference-within-a-conference was called "Dairy for Global Nutrition Symposium" and brought in an international group of nutrition experts to present the latest research in the field.

    Below is just of silver of the key themes presented by speakers

    1) Protein quality matters.

    Mark Manary, pediatrician at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Department of Pediatrics, presented groundbreaking research that establishes a strong positive correlation between protein quality scores and rates of weight gain in malnourished children.

    Manary reiterated the accuracy of the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS) rather than the old Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) to measure protein quality. An expert U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) consultation determined in 2012 that DIAAS was a better measure of protein quality and reaffirmed those findings in a second report released this March.

    DIAAS clearly demonstrates the superiority of dairy proteins compared to plant proteins, measuring a 25-30 percent nutritional advantage over soy and pea protein.

    2) The first 1,000 days of life, starting during pregnancy, are critical.

    Studies show 30 percent of stunting takes place in utero. Pre-mature babies catch up in terms of growth; low-birth-weight or stunted infants cannot make up for growth and remain small and prone to an array of troubles.

    David Clark, Ph.D., founder of Bovina Mountain Consulting, presented a summary of the latest research indicating that moderate dairy intake reduces risk of low birth weight. Short-term nutritional improvement during the first 1,000 days can result-in just one generation-in a gain in adult height of up to 8 cm greater than the mean parent height, noted Clark.

    3) Dairy proteins promote growth, but lactose and Type II minerals in dairy-potassium, magnesium and phosphorous-also show promise at reducing the prevalence of stunting.

    Benedikte Grenov, Ph.D. candidate in pediatric and internal nutrition, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen, outlined multiple positive potential effects of lactose, including improved growth, prebiotic properties, dental benefits and the ability to foster mineral absorption.

    While the picture of how dairy can help reduce levels of stunting is becoming clearer, Grenov and other speakers emphasized the need for further research. It still needs to be determined the exact dose of dairy nutrients effective at each and every stage of the first 1,000 days and how to cost optimize the treatments.

    In addition, a quality statement about protein has to be developed. FAO is developing guidance documents for policy makers, the industry and the public on dietary protein quality evaluation and the use of DIAAS in making protein-related claims.

    Nutrition Research Dairy Ingredients USDEC Events
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