should your family drink whole milk or skim milk?

milk debate

So, should your family drink whole milk or skim milk?

The USDA updates its official dietary guidelines every 5 years to keep up with the latest science on healthy nutrition.

The 2015 guidelines are expected to be published by the end of this year, so coming up and a draft of the updated recommendations has sparked heated controversy for holding on to dietary ideas that some experts say are not supported by recent research and may even be counterproductive.

The particular topic of debate?

Good ol’ milk.

For the longest time, the dietary guidelines have recommended low-fat or non-fat milk over whole milk. Whole milk is higher in saturated fats, and the latest draft sticks with that advice.

But as the Washington Post recently pointed out, there seems to be a growing body of scientific evidence which contradicts the conventional wisdom on milk and/or dairy products. An analysis published in the European Journal of Nutrition found people who drink whole milk tend to weigh less and have lower rates of obesity than those who opt for low-fat or skim.

In a recent article by CBS, Despina Hyde, a registered dietician at NYU’s Langone Weight Management Program said, “There’s a lot of emerging research right now about full-fat dairy versus low-fat or non-fat dairy…what we do know is that fat is not the enemy. Fat is good for us. It provides satiety, that feeling of fullness. It helps us to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. So it’s good for us for several reasons. However, the fat that’s found in dairy is saturated fat, which may not be the best fat out there. There’s other, healthier fats like monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, omega 3s. Having fat in dairy is one piece of the whole nutrition puzzle. So we have to look at, what else are these people eating? What is the entire picture?”

Being the most important set of guidelines in the world, there should be some solid evidence on what it is based on. However, there is debate about the current model since when the guidelines were established in the 1980’s, the obesity epidemic began as well.

Among other things, the guidelines are actually used to help shape school lunch programs and other federal food policies, but are not mandates.

Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said the updated guidelines will serve a valuable purpose in helping Americans make better food choices at a House Agriculture Meeting earlier this month.


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