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Dairy's Role in Fighting Undernutrition, Obesity Presented at U.S. Dairy Nutrition Conference

Health experts from Asia and USA share latest science on dairy's lifelong benefits   

BALI, INDONESIA, August 9, 2016 - Leading organizations such as UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have identified the double burden of malnutrition as a serious public health concern in Southeast Asia.1 Research shared at the U.S. Dairy Nutrition Conference, held in Bali, Indonesia, Aug. 4 and 5, sheds light on the latest scientific understanding of the role U.S. milk and dairy products can play as a nutrition solution in addressing this challenge across life stages, from children to adults to seniors.  

"The focus of the U.S. Dairy Nutrition Conference was the scientific discussion and sharing of nutrition research. However, if you take a step back, you'll see a shifting paradigm in the understanding of dairy's overall nutritional benefits as new research is continually being published," said Dr. Moises Torres-Gonzalez, director of nutrition research at the U.S. National Dairy Council. Dr. Torres-Gonzalez noted that one such example of the shift is a recent study showing full-fat dairy consumption is associated with reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes.2 "As we gained more knowledge through research, we saw links between consuming dairy foods and lower risk of not only Type 2 diabetes but also obesity and cardiovascular disease."

The extensive research is showing that protein quality should be emphasized, not just quantity. The new Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS) method recommended by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization3 more accurately represents protein quality than the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score method in use for more than 20 years. The DIAAS method measures a 25 to 30 percent higher quality for dairy proteins compared with plant proteins, such as soy and pea protein. Thus, when thinking of providing meals with higher-quality proteins, dairy proteins' advantages should be taken into account to complement other incomplete proteins.  

Children - dairy's nutrition benefits the undernourished

Stunting is a serious issue affecting 159 million children around the world, including an estimated 37% of children in South Asia. Reducing stunting is one of the top goals of the United Nations and key to economic development for Southeast Asia. Dr. Mark Manary, pediatrician at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis in the United States, stressed the importance of adequate nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child's life to reduce stunting and to set a lifelong foundation for health.  

Manary presented research demonstrating a strong positive correlation between higher DIAAS scores and greater recovery in malnourished children. "Dairy protein is ideal for child growth because of the higher quality, and it is better suited to meet the physiological stresses children in Asia are facing," Dr. Manary said. "Recommended actions to reduce stunting include creating foods with high-quality dairy proteins for young children, adolescents and pregnant women."         

Overweight adults - dairy protein advantages for weight management

Dr. David Baer, supervisory research physiologist, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service in the United States, shared findings from his research of overweight and obese adults that not all protein is created equal when it comes to overnutrition and weight management. In his study, participants who consumed twice daily a 200-calorie beverage consisting of 28 grams of whey protein lost 1.8 kg more than the group who consumed a similar diet of soy protein plus carbohydrates or carbohydrates alone. Additionally, the whey protein group's body fat was 2.3 kg less than the carbohydrate group.4 "It's noteworthy that people who consumed whey protein daily, without additional exercise or caloric restriction, had a smaller waist circumference at the end of the study compared to the other groups," Baer said.  

Healthy aging - reducing sarcopenia risk 

Maintaining muscle mass, strength and functionality throughout life is an important first step on the path toward healthy aging. High-quality, complete dairy proteins, such as U.S. whey and milk proteins, can help reduce the risk of progressive muscle loss that can lead to a syndrome called sarcopenia (the age-related loss of muscle and function).   

"Establishing a dietary framework that includes a moderate amount - about 25 to 30 grams - of high-quality protein at each meal is optimal to kick-start muscle protein synthesis and reduce the long-term risk of sarcopenia," said Dr. Douglas Paddon-Jones, professor of nutrition and metabolism at the University of Texas Medical Branch in the United States. "When choosing the protein to include in that dietary framework, it is worth noting that dairy proteins contain higher levels of branch-chain amino acids than egg, meat, soy and wheat options. Whey protein, in particular, is a unique option with the ability to initiate new muscle synthesis because of its high BCAA and leucine content."  

Commitment to nutrition

U.S. dairy ingredients' nutritional and functional advantages make them well-suited to be used as ingredients in both food assistance and commercial retail products and, in turn, help to be an engine for economic growth. "This conference was a step in the right direction to support a healthier food environment in Southeast Asia," said Dr. Geok Lin Khor, emeritus professor at Universiti Putra Malaysia. "Forming greater public-private-academia partnerships based on sound science can help increase access and consumption of nutrient-rich foods toward achieving positive health outcomes."  

"The vast resources, collaborative spirit and product diversity offered by the U.S. dairy industry can put Southeast Asian food and beverage manufacturers in a great position to help improve the health and nutrition of its consumers," said Vikki Nicholson, senior vice president of the U.S. Dairy Export Council®. "From the young to the old, and from the undernourished to the overnourished, consumers throughout Southeast Asia and other regions throughout the world facing similar challenges can benefit from U.S. Dairy."  

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1Children in South East Asia face a 'double burden' of obesity and undernutrition, new report finds [press release]. Bangkok: UNICEF East Asia and Pacific; March 28, 2016. Accessed July 29, 2016.

2Yakoob MY, Shi P, Willett WC, et al. Circulating Biomarkers of Dairy Fat and Risk of Incident Diabetes Mellitus Among Men and Women in the United States in Two Large Prospective Cohorts. Circulation. 2016;133(12):1645-1654. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.018410.

3Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Dietary protein quality evaluation in human nutrition. Published 2013. Accessed July 29, 2016.

4Baer DJ, Stote KS, Paul DR, Harris GK, Rumpler WV, Clevidence BA. Whey protein but not soy protein supplementation alters body weight and composition in free-living overweight and obese adults. J Nutr. 2011;141(8):1489-1494.

5Yang Y, Breen L, Burd NA, et al. Resistance exercise enhances myofibrillar protein synthesis with graded intakes of whey protein in older men. Br J Nutr. 2012;108(10):1780-1788.   

About U.S. Dairy Export Council

The U.S. Dairy Export Council® (USDEC) is a nonprofit, independent membership organization that represents the global trade interests of U.S. dairy producers, proprietary processors and cooperatives, ingredient suppliers and export traders. Funded primarily by the dairy checkoff program through Dairy Management Inc.TM, the mission of USDEC is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and assist the U.S. industry to increase its global dairy ingredient sales and exports of U.S. dairy products. USDEC accomplishes this through programs in market development that build global demand for U.S. dairy products, resolve market access barriers and advance industry trade policy goals. USDEC is supported by staff across the United States and in Mexico, South America, Asia, Middle East and Europe.  

The U.S. Dairy Export Council prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, disability, national origin, race, color, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation, political beliefs, marital status, military status, and arrest or conviction record.