Boosting our daily dairy intake could help slash healthcare costs by curbing the burden of chronic disease, a US study has suggested.
Dairy products such as yogurt are an important part of a healthy diet and many studies have reported associations between dairy consumption and reduced risks of developing long term diseases, including type 2 diabetes.
But in the USA, most people don’t eat enough dairy products. Estimates based on surveys conducted in 2015–2016 suggest that the average adult American eats 1.5 servings of dairy food per day – half the amount recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). Indeed, only 14% of Americans aged 1 year or older consume the recommended dairy intake.
Dairy intake might be good for health and economy too
Increased dairy intake has been associated with reduced risks of stroke, raised blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and hip fractures. A possible association between dairy consumption and increased risks of prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease has been suggested but recent reviews have shown that the evidence is limited.
The authors weighed up all the pros and cons and estimated that, if all adult Americans increased their daily dairy intake to the recommended 3 servings, healthcare costs might be cut by US $12.5 billion each year.
Eating more yogurt could save billions by reducing diabetes risk
The authors looked at the potential effects on healthcare costs of meeting the gap in dairy intake with single types of dairy food (milk, cheese or yogurt). The greatest effect was seen with yogurt. If all US adults ate an extra half serving of yogurt each day to help meet the DGA guidelines, the annual healthcare cost savings could be a whopping $32.5 billion. This reflects a fall in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
‘Among dairy sub-types, an increase of approximately 0.5 c-eq [cup-equivalent]/day of yogurt consumption alone to help meet the DGA recommendations resulted in the highest annual cost savings of $32.5B (range of $16.5B to $52.8B), mostly driven by a reduction in type 2 diabetes.’ – Scrafford et al, 2020.