A study conducted to learn more about the attitudes and behaviors of African American women toward milk and milk products, found that 96 percent do not drink the recommended three or more 8 ounce servings of milk per day.

In addition, 43 percent responded that they do not drink milk because of symptoms typical of lactose intolerance. However, three out of four women admitted confusion about the definition of lactose intolerance.

Misconceptions about lactose intolerance and milk may be contributing to the health problems of African American women. Since 75 percent of the calcium in the U.S. diet comes from milk and milk products, those who don’t drink milk only receive about half of the calcium needed. That shortfall makes them more likely to suffer from hypertension, stress and osteoporosis. An estimated 25 percent of the U.S. population has some trouble digesting lactose, with the highest prevalence rates found in African Americans, Hispanic and Native Americans and Asian Americans.

However, only 7 percent of those surveyed took steps to help them overcome lactose intolerance. Solutions include using lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk, and taking lactase enzyme tablets or adding enzyme drops to milk before drinking it.

The survey, which was conducted by Impulse Research Corporation on behalf of the Milk Processor Education Program, provides the dairy industry insight into what needs to be done to educate consumers on the benefits of milk in order to increase consumption.