The role of dairy foods in lower greenhouse gas emission and higher diet quality dietary patterns

Abstract

Purpose

There is conflicting advice about the inclusion of dairy foods in a lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emission dietary pattern. Our purpose was to assess the prevalence of dairy food intake among higher diet quality and lower GHG emission diets in Australia and within these diets assess the association between level of dairy food intake and adequate intake of a broad range of nutrients.

Methods

Dietary intake data collected using a 24-h recall process were sourced from the most recent Australian Health Survey. Diet quality was assessed by level of compliance with the food group-based Australian Dietary Guidelines. A subgroup of 1732 adult (19 years and above) daily diets was identified having higher diet quality score and lower GHG emissions (HQLE). Intake of core dairy foods (milk, cheese, yoghurt) was assessed and nutrient profiling was undertaken for 42 macro- and micronutrients.

Results

The HQLE subgroup had 37% higher diet quality score and 43% lower GHG emissions than the average Australian adult diet (P < 0.05). Intake of dairy foods was very common (90% of HQLE diets) and greatly exceeded the intake of non-dairy alternatives (1.53 serves compared to 0.04 serves). HQLE daily diets in the highest tertile of dairy food intake were more likely to achieve the recommended intake of a wide range of nutrients, including calcium, protein, riboflavin, vitamin B12, folate, phosphorous, magnesium, iodine and potassium compared to other HQLE daily diets.

Conclusion

Core dairy foods have an important role for achieving adequate nutrient intakes in a healthy and lower GHG emission dietary pattern in Australia.

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Acknowledgements

This work was partially funded by Dairy Australia (https://www.dairyaustralia.com.au/), Grant Number C100003142.

Funding

This study was partially funded by Dairy Australia (Southbank, Victoria 3006).

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Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

The study was conceived and designed by BGR and GAH. Analyses were performed by DB and GAH. The first draft of the manuscript was prepared by BGR and all authors contributed to subsequent revisions. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Bradley G. Ridoutt.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest. The authors exercised freedom in designing the research, performing the analyses and making the decision to publish research results. Dairy Australia (DA) partially funded this research. However, DA did not have any role in design of the study, analysis of data or interpretation of results. The decision to publish was made prior to funding and before the results were known. DA had no role in the preparation of the manuscript.

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Ridoutt, B.G., Baird, D. & Hendrie, G.A. The role of dairy foods in lower greenhouse gas emission and higher diet quality dietary patterns. Eur J Nutr 60, 275–285 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-020-02245-w

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Keywords

  • Micronutrients
  • Nutrient adequate intake
  • Nutritional quality
  • Protein
  • Public health nutrition
  • Sustainable diet