Assessment of Beverage Trends and Replacing Nondairy Caloric Beverages with Milk at Meals across Childhood Improves Intake of Key Nutrients at Risk of Inadequate Consumption: An NHANES Modeling Study

Curr Dev Nutr. 2023 Oct 18;7(11):102020. doi: 10.1016/j.cdnut.2023.102020. eCollection 2023 Nov.


Background: Milk is a key source of important nutrients including the nutrients of public health concern. However, most Americans do not meet current (dairy) United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guideline recommendations, and the intake has been declining.

Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate milk and beverage intake trends and nutrient intakes from these products in United States children aged 6-18 y and to model the effect of isocaloric substitution of nondairy beverages with milk.

Methods: Data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2018 for children age 6-8 (N = 4696), 9-13 (N = 8117) and 14-18 y (N = 8514) were used with milk and other beverage intakes determined from the first 24-h in-person dietary recall. Nutrient intake was determined using the NHANES cycle-specific total nutrient intake files. Nutrient modeling was performed by isocaloric substitution with milk of all nondairy beverages consumed during lunch and dinner meals combined. Sample-weighted analyses were performed using SAS 9.4.

Results: Between ages 6-8 and 14-18 y, daily intake of milk and flavored milk decreased by 10% and 62%, respectively, while daily intake of caloric beverages excluding milk increased by 96%. Daily intake from caloric beverages and milk combined decreased for fiber, protein, fat, saturated fat, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin D and increased for energy, carbohydrates, added sugars, and folate between ages 6-8 y and 14-18 y. Isocaloric substitution of all caloric nondairy beverages at meals with milk (using nutrient contribution of USDA milk, not further specified (NFS)) resulted in increases in protein, fat, saturated fat, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, vitamin A, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin D and decreases in carbohydrate, fiber, and added sugar.

Conclusion: These findings provide additional evidence to support dietary recommendations for milk, and efforts should be made on behalf of leading health professionals and childhood meal programs to highlight milk as a beverage of choice in children and adolescents.

Keywords: NHANES; National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; SSB; beverages; calcium; children; magnesium; milk; protein; vitamin D.