Our latest IDF bulletin looks at the structure of Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other cultured/fermented dairy products which are important sources of key nutrients. As part of their nutrient-rich package, dairy foods also contain naturally occurring sugar, lactose. It is important to consider dairy products in a unique way, giving credit to the important nutritional properties of their intrinsic lactose content.
The publication advocates that, while excessive intake of added/free sugars can be linked to non-communicable diseases, the evidence linking naturally occurring sugars in milk and chronic diseases remain inaccurate. Instead, lactose is associated with several health properties, such as enhancing intestinal calcium absorption in infancy and possibly in the elderly, as well as prebiotic-like effects on the digestive tract.
Despite the scientific evidence on the health benefits of this nutrient, some countries have considered the lactose naturally present in milk and milk products as an added/free sugar by authoritative bodies and health organizations.
In light of this, it is important to raise awareness of the benefits of lactose and to identify a lack of evidence-based information about the important role of dairy, including lactose, as part of a healthy diet, IDF is publishing bulletin 509/2021: Lactose, an important nutrient: Advocating a revised policy approach for dairy and its intrinsic sugar was developed. The bulletin provides in-depth detail on topics introduced by the IDF position paper on lactose issued in September 2020.
IDF Action Team leader Action Team Leader, Maretha Vermaak, Registered Dietician:
“Owing to the natural lactose content of dairy, milk products could be unfairly classified as ‘high in sugar’ according to certain policy or regulatory proposals should a ‘total sugar approach be taken. The review in this bulletin provides evidence-based information to IDF members about the important contribution of dairy, including lactose, to a healthy, balanced diet. The review underscores that policy measures aimed at lowering the intakes of nutrients of concern (such as sugar) should not be defined at the expense of the consumption of core, nutrient-dense foods such as milk, milk-based products, cheese, and yoghurt.”
Bulletin 509/2021 is now available to download free of charge from the IDF website.