The impact of doubling dairy or plant-based foods on consumption of nutrients of concern and proper bone health for adolescent females

Elieke Demmer, Christopher J Cifelli, Jenny A Houchins, Victor L Fulgoni
Public Health Nutrition 2017, 20 (5): 824-831

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effects of increasing plant-based foods v. dairy foods on energy and nutrients of concern in adolescent females via diet modelling exercises.

DESIGN: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) were used to compare nutrient intakes from usual diet with those from three dietary scenarios that increased current intakes by 100 % of the following: (i) plant-based foods; (ii) protein-rich plant-based foods; and (iii) milk, cheese and yoghurt. The first two scenarios had commensurate reductions in animal products.

SETTING: What We Eat in America, NHANES 2007-2010.

SUBJECTS: Female adolescents (n 1594) aged 9-18 years.

RESULTS: When currently consumed plant-based foods were increased by 100 %, there were increases in dietary fibre, added sugar, vitamin E, Fe and folate intakes. These increases were accompanied by decreases in total fat, saturated fat, Zn, vitamin D, Ca and protein intakes. Protein-rich plant foods are consumed in very low quantities in this population such that doubling their intake resulted in no real nutritional impact. When dairy products were increased by 100 % there were increases in intakes of vitamin D, Mg, Zn, Ca, K, energy, saturated fat and protein.

CONCLUSIONS: Non-specific recommendations to increase plant foods can lead to unintended nutritional consequences. For adolescent girls, meeting the dietary recommendation of three daily servings of dairy improved the intake of the identified nutrients of concern while simultaneously providing adequate nutrients essential for proper growth and bone health critical during the adolescent phase.

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