Dissing Dairy

An article in the Canadian Globe and Mail asks whether dairy products are really as great as everyone has always been told they were...

Milk has long enjoyed a coveted place in refrigerators across the country.

Pediatricians, health experts and the dairy industry have promoted consumption of dairy products by touting the fact that they're high in calcium, protein and vitamin D.

But milk's status as nutritional beverage of choice for growing children has recently come under the microscope.

Prompted by concerns over a rise in milk allergies, links to obesity, the advantages of alternatives such as soy, and new research questioning milk's role in protecting bones, some experts are advocating for change.

It's a debate that has picked up in the past decade since Benjamin Spock, one of the world's best-known pediatricians, argued against milk and meat in children's diets.

The seventh edition of Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, published in 1998 shortly after his death at 94, says children shouldn't consume dairy products after age 2, and that other calcium sources, such as some dark leafy vegetables, have nutritional advantages.

Experts recommend that infants be fed breast milk. Otherwise, special infant formula is recommended. After that, usually beyond age one or two, babies will typically be given cow's milk. Last Friday, a panel of experts assembled by U.S. government agencies called for research into soy-based formulas. The panel said that while soy is safe for consumption, there has never been a comprehensive study of the effects of a soy diet on babies ...

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First published in December 2009


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