Can Dairy Help Advance Health Equity For African Americans?
Did you know that your zip code can be a predictor of your health? So can your place of birth, where you work and play, your income and education, and a host of other factors — in addition to the choices you make each day about what to eat. These factors, what public health professionals recognize as “social determinants of health,” are linked to the inequities in health and health care (health disparities), among racial and ethnic minorities in America.
Nutrition plays a major role in advancing health equity. Dairy foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt can be key in decreasing the nutrient intake disparity faced by the African American community. Dairy foods can deliver many nutrients important for good health, including three of the nutrients of public health concern — calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. Health authorities such as the National Medical Association (NMA) – the nation’s oldest and largest organization of African-American physicians — and the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA), as well as the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans all recommend, for most, three servings of low fat or nonfat dairy as a means of closing the nutrient intake gap.
It’s not surprising that NMA and NHMA have addressed this public health concern. In fact, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report states “consumption of dairy foods provide numerous health benefits, including lower risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and obesity” — disease states affecting African Americans at disproportionate rates. This evidence makes a strong case for the inclusion of dairy in your diet.