Australians are increasingly avoiding dairy foods for all the wrong reasons

Dairy Farmers, struggling due to falling milk prices, march through the streets of Melbourne. Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

One in six adult Australians are avoiding milk and dairy foods because they think it might make them fat and bloated.

A survey by the CSIRO and the University of Adelaide found that the majority (74%) are making this choice to relieve gastrointestinal symptoms such as cramps, bloating or wind.

Some think dairy is fattening or just don’t like the taste.

“The scale of people restricting their diet without a medical reason is very concerning in terms of the public health implications, especially for women,” says Bella Yantcheva, a behavioural scientist at the the CSIRO.

“It means there is potential for nutritional deficiencies or imbalances, or the risk that an underlying health condition could be going untreated.”

Dairy foods are important to help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, especially for women. However, the study revealed that more women are avoiding milk and dairy foods than men.

These results follow the similar findings on wheat which showed around 10 times as many Australians than those diagnosed with coeliac disease are avoiding wheat-based foods.

The latest study reveals that even more people are avoiding dairy products. And one third of the respondents avoiding dairy foods are also cutting wheat-based foods.

The study is published in this month’s issue of Public Health Nutrition.

For women aged 19 to 50, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend two and half serves of dairy per day, increasing to four serves after the age of 50.

Men should have two and half serves and increase to three and half after the age of 70.

A serve of dairy is equal to 250ml of milk, two slices or 40gm of cheese or a 200gm tub of yogurt.

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