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South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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“Have milk, maas or yoghurt every day”: a food-based dietary guideline for South Africa

HH Vorster, E Wentzel-Viljoen, M Vermaak

Abstract


A national working group recently reached consensus that a guideline  message for milk consumption should form part of the set of revised food-based dietary guidelines (FBDGs) for South Africa. The message was formulated as: “Have milk, maas or yoghurt every day”. This paper provides scientific support for this FBDG, based on the nutrition and health
profile of South Africans; addresses concerns about possible detrimental effects of milk consumption, such as lactose intolerance, saturated fat and trans-fat content, milk allergies and dental caries in children; and  identifies barriers to increased consumption. The guideline refers to milk, maas and yoghurt, and not all dairy products. This is based on the nutrient contribution of these products to a healthy diet. Milk (and some dairy products) has a low sodium-to-potassium ratio, as well as bioactive peptides, which may protect against the development of noncommunicable diseases. There is some evidence that the calcium in milk and dairy plays an important role in the regulation of body weight and bone mineral content in children. Available data show that milk and calcium intake in South Africans is low. Identified barriers include perceptions about lactose intolerance, taste, price, lack of knowledge on the nutritive value of milk and milk products, and possibly cultural taboos. As a result, increasing the consumption of milk, maas and yoghurt of South Africans will require active, multifaceted and multilevel promotion.



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