Dairy linked to obesity
With obesity increasingly in the news agenda as a risk factor for being more susceptible to diseases including Covid-19, Leila Dehghan-Zaklaki, a registered associate nutritionist, said: ‘There is a link between dairy consumption and obesity, which studies funded by the dairy industry or links to dairy industry deny. About 65% of fat in dairy milk is saturated fat, and the consumption of whole milk, cream and cheese in particular is problematic. Cheese can contain up to 70% fat – a fact that’s often overlooked.’
‘In the UK, Black African and Black Caribbean adults have the highest incidence of obesity. This is something that healthcare professionals and policy makers need to address because obesity has been identified as one of the major risk factors for severe Covid-19 illnesses.
‘This may also be one of the reasons why the mortality rate among BAME communities is disproportionately higher. The government is launching a weight loss campaign to prepare the country for a second wave of Covid-19, and ditching dairy and dairy products needs to be part of that campaign.’
Registered associate nutritionist
Is dairy essential?
In Canada, dairy is no longer considered necessary, with Health Canada recently removing it from Canada’s Food Guide.
Canadian registered dietitian and author, Brenda Davis, commented: ‘While dairy products are high in calcium, there are many calcium-rich plant foods that can assist consumers in meeting their dietary requirements. Prior to the advent of agriculture, humans consumed an estimated 1,000-1,500 mg calcium per day without a single drop of cow’s milk. Food guides that insist on dairy products as an ‘essential’ part of a healthy diet fail those who are lactose-intolerant, the vast majority of whom are of African, Asian, and South American descent.
‘As a Canadian dietitian, I am tremendously encouraged that Health Canada detached the voice of industry from the new Canada’s Food Guide, and instead relied on evidence-based science. As a result, dairy is no longer considered necessary, and Canada has paved the way for the rest of the Western world. When consumers can make choices that are not only better for their health, but more justifiable ethically and ecologically, we all win.’
World Plant Milk Day
The World Plant Milk Day campaign is encouraging the public to take its 7 Day Dairy-Free Challenge from Saturday 22 August and switch to plant-based alternatives.
Everyone signing up to the challenge at worldplantmilkday.com will receive daily emails with useful advice, tips and recipes.
The campaign is also highlighting the work of Refarm’d, an organisation which helps dairy farmers make the switch to producing plant milks, for economic and environmental benefits, as well as for animal welfare reasons and improved public health.
‘In the case of free school milk programmes, plant milks should be offered routinely, which offer a wide range of health benefits, including equivalent amounts of calcium and protein to cow’s milk and even fibre, without excluding ethnic minorities.
‘Soya milk consumption, for example, offers similar or higher levels of protein than cow’s milk, is fortified with calcium and other important vitamins and minerals.
‘Studies of dietary patterns suggests that the regular consumption of soya foods in particular is likely to be beneficial for bone health as part of a predominately plant-based diet, especially those which include the consumption of fortified milks as well as alternative dietary sources of calcium such as kale, broccoli, tofu, nuts and beans.
‘Predominately plant-based diets without the consumption of dairy have also been shown to provide numerous other benefits, including improved heart health and reduced cancer risk.’
DR SHIREEN KASSAM
Consultant haematologist and founder of Plant Based Health Professionals UK