Nutrition & Health

Scientific evidence supports the importance of milk and dairy products as part of healthy diets

The world is grappling with the challenges of feeding a rapidly increasing global population. A leading concern related to food production and consumption is producing enough nutrient dense foods to nourish the world sustainably, and without compromising global health.

Including dairy in diets globally is important in meeting the challenge of delivering on Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger. Studies have shown that dairy plays an important role in providing enough protein and nutrients to feed the world.

Importance of dairy products

Milk and dairy products can be important in diversifying the diet. They are nutrient-dense and provide high quality protein and micronutrients in an easily absorbed form. This can benefit both nutritionally vulnerable people as well as healthy people when consumed in appropriate quantities and as part of healthy eating patterns.

IDF work on nutrition focuses on exploring the huge potential of the dairy sector has for tackling malnutrition in all its forms and creating food security. 

IDF work centres on promoting greater understanding of the importance of dairy products in the diet. This includes sharing information on the nutritional value of dairy and the role it plays in healthy diets produced in a sustainable way.  IDF also seeks to increase understanding of dairy science, and the impact of dairy products on nutrition and health.

Dairy's vital role in global nutrition

Good health depends on good nutrition. Good nutrition, in turn, depends on agriculture to provide the foods for a balanced diet that meets our needs for energy and essential nutrients like protein, vitamins and minerals. To feed a larger and more urbanised population, efficient production of nutrient rich foods is essential. 

With hunger and malnutrition are on the rise, nutrient-dense foods such as milk and dairy foods provide high quality nutrition at all life stages and are part of healthy diets. They are a good source of under consumed nutrients, particularly for children and older adults.

Animal sourced proteins such as dairy have been shown in numerous studies to improve growth, health, and cognition in regions of the world that have primarily relied on plant- and grain-based proteins for much of their sustenance.
The dairy sector supports efforts to transition the food systems to nourish the growing world population with healthy diets produced in a sustainable way. To meet the nutrient and protein needs of a growing global population without overwhelming the planet, animals and plants should not be thought of as competing entities, but rather as symbiotic food sources that provide different nutritional and environmental benefits. Dairy foods are:
  • Nutritionally beneficial​
  • Environmentally sustainable
  • Economically viable
  • Culturally acceptable

Dairy's nutritional value

Billions of people around the world rely on livestock to provide food for their families. Dairy foods are excellent sources of calcium, vitamins B2 and B12 and protein, and rich in magnesium, potassium and iodine.

In countries where high quality protein sources are scarce for vulnerable populations, dairy is an affordable nutrient dense food, and plays a vital role in making high-quality nutrition accessible.

Dairy in a balanced diet

Dairy products have long been recognized as an important part of balanced diets and are included in food-based dietary guidelines around the globe. Here are some ways the global dairy sector is part of the solution to address global food insecurity:
  • Nutrient-dense foods such as milk and dairy foods provide high quality nutrition at all life stages and are part of healthy diets. They are a good source of under consumed nutrients, particularly for children and older adults.
  • Feeding a growing population while staying within the planetary boundaries, requires a dynamic sector that embraces forward thinking, innovation, and technology. The global dairy sector continues to improve efficiency to reduce environmental impacts and is committed to expanding further the positive ecosystems services that the sector provides.
  • The dairy sector is a partner in resilient food systems to create a future where all humans have enough good quality food to lead healthy and productive lives and food production helps to ensure a thriving planet for future generations.

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Dairy is an affordable nutrient dense food, which plays a vital role in making high-quality nutrition accessible

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