SOURCE: National Dairy Council

November 07, 2007 08:00 ET

School Nutrition Association, National Dairy Council Partnership Aims to Enhance the Health of Children

3-A-Day of Dairy Nutrition Program to Help Kids Choose Nutritious Foods, Drinks

ROSEMONT, IL--(Marketwire - November 7, 2007) - The School Nutrition Association (SNA) and the National Dairy Council (NDC) today announced a partnership to improve the health of the nation's children through a nutrition education campaign that reinforces the benefits for children over age 8 of three daily servings of low-fat and fat-free dairy, as recommended in the 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

"Children and adolescents are faced with a lot of choices when deciding what to eat and drink," said Ann Marie Krautheim, senior vice president of Nutrition Affairs for the National Dairy Council. "This partnership will help educate parents, teachers and children about the importance of good nutrition and, more importantly, how to make healthy food choices that enhance their overall wellbeing."

Recent health statistics show that only 2 percent of children meet the Dietary Guidelines, and more than 90 percent of girls and 70 percent of boys aged 12-19 do not meet current calcium recommendations. The U.S. government has identified five key nutrients currently lacking in children's diets, including calcium. Dairy foods supply three of these five nutrients for which children have low intakes: calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

"We are committed to ensuring that all children have access to healthy school meals and nutrition education," Mary Hill, president of the School Nutrition Association, said. She agrees that the trend for healthy school lunches is continuing. "We know that good nutrition and good education go hand in hand, and that well-nourished children have higher test scores, better attendance records and fewer classroom behavior problems."

"By working with National Dairy Council, we will enhance our efforts to educate and train those professionals directly responsible for protecting the school nutrition environment and ensuring that our children have access to the foods and drinks they need to help them thrive," she added.

Milk and milk products are the primary sources of calcium in the U.S. diet. In fact, in 2000 milk and milk products contributed to 72 percent of the calcium available in the U.S. food supply, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Complementing the Dietary Guidelines is a 2006 report on calcium from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which states that children over 8 years old should have three servings of dairy foods daily, and adolescents should have four servings daily to meet calcium recommendations.

This partnership will also complement the current wave of change in the child nutrition environment, in particular in schools. Milk is the only item required to be offered with every school breakfast and lunch. Consuming school lunch and meeting the daily three servings of dairy recommendations improves overall diet quality of children.

Advances in school nutrition and physical activity are taking place in thousands of communities as a result of local school wellness policies. "White and flavored milk can, and should be, an important part of a wellness policy. Many students get virtually their entire daily dairy consumption at school," said Krautheim.

SNA joins the list of health professional organizations that support NDC's 3-A-Day of Dairy program, a nutrition-based education and marketing effort to increase awareness of the health benefits of dairy foods and encourage three servings of dairy daily. As a partner, a SNA representative will join the 3-A-Day of Dairy Advisory Panel, which includes nationally renowned health professionals and nutrition experts, and provides scientific guidance and direction for the campaign that puts research findings into context that is useful for the public. The Advisory Panel also provides crucial input into health professional communications and education programs, which follow NDC's Guiding Principles for Nutrition Science and Health Communications ensuring scientific integrity, transparency, leadership and excellence. Other 3-A-Day of Dairy partners include the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Dietetic Association and the National Medical Association.

As a leader in nutrition research since 1915, the National Dairy Council is dedicated to providing timely, scientifically sound nutrition information on the health benefits of milk, cheese and yogurt.