A new report from the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine recommends that nutrition standards be established for “competitive” foods in the school environment, such as a la carte cafeteria items, vending machines and school stores.

The National Dairy Council (NDC), the nutrition research and education arm of the dairy checkoff program, applauds the overall recommendations outlined in the report, which promotes the consumption of nonfat and low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables and whole grains and limits the amount of saturated fat, salt, added sugars, and total calories. The report includes a specific recommendation for schools to increase the availability of low-fat and nonfat white and flavored milk and yogurt, with modest amounts of added sugars, for all grade levels, throughout the day.

“We’re pleased that the report recognizes the important role dairy foods play in contributing valuable nutrients to the diet of children and adolescents,” says Ann Marie Krautheim, senior vice president of nutrition affairs for NDC. “Child health is a dairy industry priority and we’re committed to continuing to develop healthy and great-tasting dairy foods that can be enjoyed at school, at home and on-the-go.”

With child obesity rates on the rise, the new guidelines aim to improve children and adolescent’s diets and health. “This report is a step in the right direction for helping children and adolescents develop lifelong healthy eating habits,” says Keith Ayoob, associate clinical professor of pediatrics, at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “The report wants to encourage kids to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and especially dairy foods, which give kids three of the five "nutrients of concern" identified by the Dietary Guidelines, specifically, calcium, potassium and magnesium. Kids spend more than half their day in school so it's important that school food and beverage offerings provide the nutrients they need.”

For more information on dairy foods and school nutrition and the 3-A-Day health professional partners, visit www.3aday.org.

To view the report in full, visit www.iom.edu.

 Dairy Management Inc.