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Lactose intolerance lower than thought: study

By staff reporter , 21-Oct-2009

Lactose intolerance rates are much lower than previously thought with prevailing estimations as much as 400 percent greater than results derived in a new study sponsored by the National Dairy Council.

Published in Nutrition Today, the study looked at three ethnic groups and found lactose intolerance rates were lower in all three groups, than previous estimations, although the figures for those were in regard to lactose maldigestion.

The study found the overall rate of lactose intolerance was 12 percent – 7.72 percent of European Americans, 10.05 percent of Hispanic Americans and 19.5 percent of African Americans, based on slef-reported data.

Previous studies have found 15 percent of European Americans, 50 percent of Mexican Americans and 80 percent of African Americans suffer from lactose maldigestion.

"There's so much confusion surrounding lactose intolerance," said Theresa Nicklas, DrPH, of the USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and lead study author.

"By getting a better handle on the true number of people who deal with this condition every day, the nutrition community can be better equipped to educate and provide dietary guidance for Americans, including strategies to help meet dairy food recommendations for those who self-report lactose intolerance."

The study boosts National Dairy Council campaigning to inform those with lactose intolerance or maldigestion about that milk consumption is possible without adverse effects.

"Those with lactose intolerance are often relieved to know they can still enjoy the great taste and health benefits of dairy if they follow certain strategies," said Orsolya Palacios, PhD, RD, and lead author of the study.

"The symptoms of lactose intolerance vary greatly for each individual, and there are options in the dairy case that allow almost everyone to take advantage of the health benefits provided by the recommended three daily servings of dairy foods."

Source: Nutrition Today
44(5):186-187

 

Prevalence of self-reported lactose intolerance in a multi-ethnic sample of adults”
Authors: Nicklas, TA, Qu, H, Hughes, SO.

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