Got Milk Substitutes

Updated May 8, 2019 | Infoplease Staff

Federal Dietary Guidelines recommend two to three servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese daily in order to ingest the necessary amount of calcium. Yet the majority of non-white American adults are lactose intolerant:1

  • Asian Americans 95%
  • African Americans 65%
  • American Indians 65%
  • Hispanic Americans 50%
  • Caucasians 15%
  • Entire American pop. 25%
  • World population 75%

All children are born with the enzyme lactase, which allows them to digest milk, but by the age of ten many children of non-European descent no longer produce the enzyme. Health and civil rights groups, spearheaded by the Congressional Black Caucus's Health Brain Trust, have urged that the lactose intolerance of non-white Americans be taken into account when preparing the new dietary guidelines that were issued in 2000. Donna M. Christian-Christensen, head of the Black Caucus's committee, remarked to the New York Times, “These are called 'Guidelines for Americans,' so they should reflect all Americans.“

1. Source of statistics: Richard Grand, M.D., Tufts University Medical School.

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