In a move that will ruffle no feathers and cause no consternated play-group conversations, a coalition of American health experts has issued new childhood nutrition guidelines that include the following: Children under the age of 5 should avoid plant-based and non-dairy milks like almond, oat, and soy.
According to the guidelines—which do acknowledge exceptions for kids who have dairy allergies—“Evidence indicates that, with the exception of fortified soy milk, many plant-based/non-dairy milk alternatives lack key nutrients found in cow’s milk. Even when these milks have extra nutrients added to them, our bodies may not absorb those nutrients as well as they can from regular milk.” These consensus recommendations were developed by representatives from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Heart Association.
The guidelines also note that kids should be transitioned away from whole or full-fat milk around age 2 or 3: “Transitioning to lower-fat milks helps children stay within recommendations for total daily calorie and fat intake, which helps promote a healthy weight.” The balancing act for parents, I suppose, is that whole milk is tastier than skim milk, and serving whole milk would likely encourage kids to drink more of it.
But I’m not a doctor, nor a parent, so I will sit idly by and watch as these completely uncontroversial new health guidelines go utterly unremarked upon. I expect to hear nothing about the dairy lobby, not a word.