Introduction to the Yogurt in Nutrition Initiative and the First Global Summit on the Health Effects of Yogurt1-3

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Yogurt has been part of the human diet for thousands of years, and during that time a number of health benefits have been associated with its consumption. The goal of the First Global Summit on the Health Effects of Yogurt was to review and evaluate the strength of current scientific knowledge with regard to the health benefits of yogurt and to identify areas where further research is needed. The evidence base for the benefits of yogurt in promoting bone health, maintaining health throughout the life cycle, improving diet quality, and reducing the incidence of chronic diseases, such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease, was presented. When assessing a complex food matrix, rather than specific nutrients, scientists and consumers are faced with new challenges as to how a food item's quality or necessity would be judged as part of an individual's whole diet. To tackle this challenge, speakers described methods for assessing the nutrient density of foods and its application to yogurt, use of yogurt for lactose intolerance, and the cost-effectiveness of yogurt and dairy products in reducing health care expenses. Last, speakers described the role of dairy products in global public health and nutrition, the scientific basis for current dairy recommendations, and future scientific and policy needs related to dairy and yogurt recommendations.

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