WASHINGTON—Four-time NBA champion John Salley testified before the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday, Aug. 11, to urge the agencies to indicate in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that dairy products are unnecessary and take a disproportionate health toll on people of color. Salley, who played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons, and Chicago Bulls, testified on behalf of the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
The USDA and HHS heard comments on the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s scientific report, which recommends that the Guidelines continue to recommend three servings of dairy a day. The agencies use the scientific report to develop the final Guidelines, which are expected to be released by the end of the year.
While Salley testified, doctors and health care providers from the Physicians Committee took part in a socially distanced demonstration outside of USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The Physicians Committee also submitted a letter signed by nearly 500 health care professionals, including 300 physicians. The letter says that the DGAC’s scientific report “preserves antiquated, racially biased dairy-promoting guidelines, despite clear contributions to health problems that take a disproportionate toll in Black Americans and other demographic groups.”
The authors cite scientific evidence linking dairy products to heart disease; breast and prostate cancers; and asthma, diseases that Black Americans die from at a disproportionate rate. The letter also references an American Medical Association resolution that recognizes that lactose intolerance is common among many Americans, especially Black Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans, and calls for the Guidelines to indicate that “dairy products are optional.”
The Physicians Committee’s letter to the USDA and HHS says, “We recommend that U.S. policy follow that of the Government of Canada, which recently updated its nutrition guidelines to acknowledge that dairy consumption is not necessary and demoted dairy products from a food group to an optional protein source. We request that you use your full authority to ensure that the finalized 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans eliminate racial biases and provide for good health for all Americans.”
John Salley | Ditch the Dairy, End Racial Bias
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.