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Health and Wellness Experts Join Checkoff For Dairy Deep Dive

ROSEMONT, Ill.  – The dairy checkoff hosted more than 100 national and international health and wellness experts for a two-day scientific conference addressing the dairy matrix, the concept of exploring the unique nutrient, non-nutrient and molecular compositions of dairy foods.

The farmer-funded National Dairy Council (NDC) organized the meeting, titled “Undercover Nutrition: A Symposium Decrypting Food and Dairy Matrix Science,” in Washington D.C., Feb. 21-22.

Among the meeting attendees were representatives and speakers from the National Institutes of Health, United States Department of Agriculture, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Society for Nutrition, National Medical Association, Johns Hopkins Medicine, University of Copenhagen and many other leading universities and organizations.

A food matrix expands beyond traditional nutrition education by showing food is much more than its nutrients on a label and that its physical and chemical properties can offer previously unknown benefits.

Meeting experts reviewed the state of the science on the food matrix with a deep dive on the latest dairy evidence, including related to why the fat in dairy foods behaves differently, resulting in neutral to beneficial links to reducing risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. They connected the science to today’s public health needs and emphasized broad collaboration is necessary to translate new nutrition insights into meaningful messaging and resources to improve consumer well-being.

Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) CEO Barbara O’Brien provided opening remarks and credited the nation’s dairy farm families for their century-long commitment to nutrition research and education through NDC and the organization’s strong science- and research-based heritage and relationships with thought leaders who share a common goal of improving public health.

“This symposium really showcased the incredible legacy of National Dairy Council and the respect it has,” O’Brien said. “The cross-section and caliber of participants was unprecedented. I was astounded by the diversity in scientific perspectives on the important role of dairy, recognition of the unique aspects of its package of macro- and micro-nutrients and the discussion and discovery of what makes dairy fats different in terms of delivering added benefits. There were many compelling scientific perspectives for dairy.”

DMI board members Audrey Donahoe (New York) and Jenni Tilton-Flood (Maine) attended the meeting, and each provided overviews of their dairies and commitments to responsible milk production. 

Tilton-Flood said the expert speakers affirmed the many known science-backed benefits of dairy, while addressing exciting new opportunities for the industry.

“Everything we know to be true about dairy nutrition continues to be reinforced by the science, however we keep finding more and more benefits of just how good dairy is,” Tilton-Flood said. “These scientists and researchers are digging in and doing work that can further unlock the promise and potential of dairy. We can find new ways dairy can be accessible and applicable for many people so we can raise up a new generation of dairy lovers. The goal posts keep moving and it’s all for the good.”

NDC President Dr. Katie Brown hosted the symposium that brought so many respected experts in nutrition and health together to engage in a positive exchange of ideas focused on discovery science and application of the dairy matrix. 

“I hope farmers feel proud of their investment in research and education because it has given NDC credible, peer-reviewed science supporting dairy’s contributions to improving health that has led to eating guidance by third-party experts,” Brown said. “Building on the momentum of the meeting, we had highly credentialed health and wellness thought leaders share ideas on how they want to collaborate with us on furthering the science and translation of the dairy matrix. We left the symposium energized to continue to build on the wellness benefits hidden within dairy foods that have yet to be discovered.”

O’Brien also is confident the experience left a positive impact on attendees, opening opportunities for dairy to be a solution to the health and wellness needs of today and the future.

“These 100-plus individuals will go home and continue their work at universities, private practice and beyond and we’re hopeful they left the symposium with additional perspectives and a deeper understanding of dairy’s potential in healthy eating patterns to transform health,” O’Brien said.

To learn more about the dairy checkoff, visit www.usdairy.com.

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