Research is critical to dairy's future

  • 2 min read July 23, 2018
  • Marilyn Hershey
  • DMI Chair

Research is sometimes the unsung hero in the dairy checkoff program.  However, research is a very strong component in DMI’s plan and is critical for our future. 

The checkoff has research projects going on around the country in many different sectors, and I want to touch on a collaboration with solid and exciting research results.

A few years ago, the Joslin Diabetes Center was brought before our board as a partner in research.  We were looking at how dairy affects type 2 diabetes; how dairy foods, including full-fat dairy foods, are essential to people who are battling type 2 diabetes; and how dairy is a critical part of a diabetic eating pattern.  

Joslin Diabetes Center Home Page

I was thrilled to see this research for a number of reasons. Personally, diabetes is a potential problem for our family. In fact, my grandfather struggled with diabetes. We have also seen friends struggle with the disease and it can be crippling. Diabetes is prevalent in our country* and the research showing dairy as a pillar to help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is encouraging**. We all know the nutritional value of milk, and this research helps take it a step further, by showing how dairy foods, including full-fat varieties, can help reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes. 

Last month, the Joslin Diabetes Center published their Clinical Guidelines in the journal Evidence-Based Diabetes Management and we (dairy) are in a great place. These are some of the dairy-specific guidelines:

1) “Dairy products and yogurt” are listed as associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and thus more likely to be recommended to this population.
2) The fat guideline now emphasizes quality over quantity of fat consumed, thus total fat intake was increased to allow for more overall quality fats in the diet. Specifically, the guidelines state, “Recent evidence demonstrates that saturated fat from dairy foods (milk, yogurt, cheese) may be acceptable within the total daily caloric intake.”
3) Recommended foods include milk and yogurt with no reference to fat level when consumed within overall calorie limits.

The checkoff’s Dr. Greg Miller and his team are leading this research effort, and others, to ensure that dairy is positively positioned for the important role it plays in health – both here in the U.S. and on the global level.

The Joslin Diabetes Center is globally recognized for its research and providing treatment and education to their patients and the broader consumer. They are well respected around the world, and other health professionals who are fighting the disease look to them for direction.

It is a big deal for us to collaborate with them. Our research dollars are working, and I am very excited about this recent announcement. 

Questions or comments? Contact me at

* - National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017
** - Science Summary: Type 2 Diabetes