ONE-in-six adult Australians are choosing to avoid milk and dairy foods, with most not having a medical diagnosis to back the decision.
A survey conducted by the CSIRO and the University of Adelaidefound about three-quarters of those avoiding dairyare making this choice to relieve adverse gastrointestinal symptoms such as cramps, bloating or wind.
Far fewer participants cited not liking the taste or because they thought it’s fattening for not including diary in their diets.
The study also revealed the decision to avoid some or all dairy foods is influenced by a range of sources from outside medical practice such as the internet, media, friends or alternative practitioners.
CSIRO’s Bella Yantcheva, behavioural scientist on the research team, said the scale of people, particularly women,restricting their dietwith no medical reasonis concerning for public health.
“It means there is potential for nutritional deficiencies or imbalances, or the risk that an underlying health condition could be going untreated,” she said.
The study revealed more women are avoiding milk and dairy foods than men, which raises concerns considering dairy’s potential to reduce osteoporosis.
These results follow the team’s similar findings on wheat avoidance, which showed about 10 times as many Australians than diagnosed with coeliac disease are avoiding wheat-based foods.
The study reveals even more people are avoiding dairy products and, in fact, that about one-third of the respondents avoiding dairy foods are also avoiding wheat-based foods.
“The numbers show that cutting out significant, basic food groups isn’t a fad but something far more serious,” said Ms Yantcheva.
According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, dairy and grain-based foods are important for a balanced diet.
“It’s not just about missing out on the food type being avoided and risking your health, but also possibly overconsuming other foods to compensate as well,” Ms Yantcheva said.
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