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Are Increased Milk Recommendations Politically Motivated

Are Increased Milk Recommendations Politically Motivated

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Dr. Kim Mulvihill Reporting According to the newly revised food pyramid you should be drinking more milk. But some critics charge the guidelines may be politically influenced.

The new dietary guidelines say if you want to look and feel better, you have to eat more dairy -- a lot more dairy -- every day. That means more yogurt, more cheese, more milk.

Most Americans drink about one and a half cups of milk a day. Under the old guidelines you were supposed to drink about two cups a day. Now you’ve got to boost that to three. And while those dairy servings are supposed to be low fat or fat free, some nutritionists contend it's still way too much.

Walter Willett, M.D., Harvard School of Public Health: “This was done without any solid evidence that there would be benefits, or even solid evidence that high dairy consumption in safe in the long run.”

Dr. Walter Willett is chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard's School of Public Health. He says while the guidelines are better, the food industry had too much influence, and that the dairy industry in particular scored big.

Dr. Walter Willett: "If I were to score how these different groups did on these new guidelines, I'd put on a scale of 1 to 10, I would put big dairy at 10, public health a 6, which is a big improvement over from where it was before.”

I actually tried out the new guidelines, and I had to admit it was a lot more dairy then I'm used to eating. So asked nutritionist Jo Ann Hattner for her take.

Jo Ann Hattner, RD, Nutritionist: “The studies that were used to make the recommendation of three servings of dairy a day used dairy products. They were very important in weight management and in hypertension, three servings of calcium.”

Milk is packed with nutrients, most notably calcium and high quality protein. It also supplies vitamins A, D, riboflavin, other B-vitamins, phosphorous and magnesium.

Dr. Willet, however says you can get these benefits from supplements or other foods. As for me, I discovered eating non-fat cheese just wasn't worth the effort. I've got my ice cream. And that's a big concern, that other Americans may also give up and grab for the wrong kinds of dairy food.

A member of the advisory committee responsible for the guidelines says the dairy industry has no influence at all. But of the thirteen nutrition experts on the panel, three had recently received funding from the national dairy council.

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