Every year, more than 10,000 Registered Dietitians gather to learn about evolving research and trends in nutrition at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE). As with most large events this year, 2020 FNCE took place on a virtual platform. However, despite changes in the medium of delivery, the content was as robust as ever. A few themes emerged in the information shared. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s happening in the world of nutrition:
Dietary Guidelines for Americans
The latest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) was set to be released this year, but due to COVID, it looks like the release may be delayed until 2021. Nutrition professionals are anxiously awaiting the release as this is the first time since its inception that the DGAs will include recommendations for children ages birth to 2 years old. What we did hear during FNCE was that the data used to determine the DGAs shows that Americans 2 years and older are still not getting enough dairy foods, and, subsequently, vitamin D, calcium, and potassium, in their diets. Additionally, children 12-24 months cannot meet their nutrient requirements without dairy foods.
Plants + Dairy
Americans are still focused on plant-based diets, but much of what the research says is that including animal sources of protein, like dairy foods, complements a plant-based diet to provide optimal nutrition. A few sessions focused on milk alternatives and plant-based diets showing that most Americans who are taking a plant-based approach to eating are also including dairy—reinforcing the need for both plant and animal foods for a complete, healthful diet.
Protein for Healthy Aging
With much of the American population aging, the focus on maintaining muscle mass for overall health and activity is a growing area of focus, which was highlighted in a few sessions. Particular interest was paid to sarcopenia and osteoporosis. Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle and osteoporosis is the loss of bone mass—both occurring as you age. High-quality protein sources that also provide bone-building nutrients like vitamin D and calcium, such as dairy foods, may help prevent or slow the progression of both diseases.
While it was sad to miss networking in person at FNCE, it was nice to be able to enjoy my homemade Chai Coffee every morning and a dairy snack every afternoon while staying up to date on all of the latest science and trends in the world of nutrition.