‘Importance of milk underlined’ in national eating guidelines for toddlers

The first ever National Healthy Eating Guidelines for One to Four Year Olds has been welcomed by the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

In particular, the specific reference to milk as one of the nine ‘main messages’ the guidelines set out was lauded by the association.

The guidelines were unveiled by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, together with the Minister for Children, Roderic O’Gorman and the Minister of State for Public Health and Wellbeing Frank Feighan today (Thursday, October 1).

The guidelines focus on nine main messages, namely:
  1. Healthy eating habits can last a lifetime;
  2. Small tummies need small servings;
  3. Portion size matters;
  4. Milk is a key food;
  5. Limit ‘treat’ foods i.e. foods high in fat, sugar and salt;
  6. Offer water and milk as drinks;
  7. Have a regular daily routine;
  8. More vitamin D needed in winter months;
  9. Make sure your child gets enough iron.

Under the messages, it was noted that children in the above age range should be offered three small meals and two to three healthy snacks every day.

In addition, it is recommended that such children be offered three servings of milk, yogurt or cheese every day, while red meat should be offered three times a week for iron, in addition to breakfast cereals with added iron (12mg/100g).

Commenting on the new guidelines, ICMSA president Pat McCormack said:

“Yet again a highly qualified and scientifically strenuous examination had demonstrated beyond any doubt that consumption of milk by young children is not just desirable but necessary and vital for healthy development.”

McCormack said that it would be interesting to see whether “as much attention is given to this cutting-edge and official finding as seemed to be accorded to anecdotal and unfounded musings by self-styled activists and unqualified nutritionists”.

Continuing, the president said that not alone is the key economy of commercial milk production being subverted by the prominence being given this “outright quackery”, but that time tested and scientifically proven dietary requirements for young children are being undermined.

He said that today’s publication of the national guidelines is welcome recognition for Irish milk and the importance of milk in the diet of children.

“Real evidence has shown that milk is a key food for one to four year olds and that children of that age should be given three servings of milk, yogurt or cheese every day,” McCormack concluded.