Monday, September 12, 2016

Is the Dairy Industry (Inadvertently) Poisoning Black Children?

 I could never understand the National Dairy Council's ads targeting young blacks, when medical research has shown that at least eighty percent of African-Americans, are by age twelve, lactose-intolerant.  Of course, supermarkets now market lactose-free milk.  But hold on a second. . .   Lactose-intolerance is not a disease and should not be treated as one.  It is rather a human trait blacks share with  65% of the world's population.  People of Northern European ancestry and a few isolated enclaves elsewhere, have a high tolerance for lactose because a large proportion of their ancestors' food supply came from dairy farming.  West Africans on the other hand, had little exposure to dairy products because of the  susceptibility of cows to the ubiquitous tsetse fly.

Milk is America's "sacred cow."   But why should blacks, Asians too, for that matter, be targeted in dairy industry campaigns promoting the health benefits of a beverage that sends most non-Europeans groping for the bathroom door knob? 

Unfortunately, little if any research attention has been given to understanding the biological mechanisms at work on healthy adult populations, who do not traditionally drink milk.  For instance, West Africans from whom black Americans are descended, suffer  a whole host of medical problems.  But bad teeth, osteoporosis and other symptoms of calcium deficiency are not among them.  This is so even though their consumption of milk ends at age three, when the mother stops breastfeeding..

The National Dairy Council is not to blame for an insidious form of  racial blindness,which applies the nutritional needs of Northern Europeans to Africans and Asians.  The underlying assumption is that the biochemistry of whites represents a universal standard, and any deviation from it, must be pathologized.    Many of us African-American parents are wringing our hands with distress at the explosive epidemic of childhood obesity in our community.  But too few of us are asking questions and demanding to know whether the nutritional advice being fed to our children is contributing to rather than fixing our health problems.

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