NDC Research

The National Dairy Council has a clear and important role in designing and implementing dairy nutrition research, especially in relation to public health.

The effective delivery of the NDC’s work programmes relies on the communication of accurate, evidence-based, up-to-date information. 

Additionally, to ensure our work is both relevant and applicable, it is essential that we understand the dietary habits of the Irish population in relation to dairy products and the associated health outcomes.
Consequently, the NDC is committed to contributing to dairy nutrition research, and the dissemination of such research to all relevant stakeholders, including health professionals.

In Ireland and globally, people are living longer with the last census figures indicating that there are more than 1.1 million people on the island of Ireland aged 60 and over. It is predicted that this figure will more than double by 2041, with the greatest increase expected in those aged over 85 years (Central Statistics Office, 2013). While this is a fantastic achievement for society, the dramatic increase in the ageing population poses significant public health and economic challenges in terms of providing adequate medical and social care.

Age related conditions such as osteoporosis and sarcopenia are predicted to increase in line with the expansion of the ageing demographic. Both of these conditions can have debilitating effects that compromise quality of life and independence into old age. There is a need, therefore, to identify factors that can maximise the chances of successful ‘healthy’ ageing through the preservation of good health.

The National Dairy Council recognises that nutrition can play a key role in supporting healthy ageing. We have explored, in collaboration with leading scientists at Trinity College Dublin and St. James’ Hospital, the role of dairy foods in the diet of older adults. This research explored an existing dataset of almost 5,000 Irish adults over the age of 60 years from the TUDA (Trinity-Ulster Department of Agriculture) study.

The TUDA database consists of a wealth of data on biochemical health markers, genetics, physical characteristics and dietary intake. The aim of the work was to identify the potential benefits of frequent dairy intake in healthy ageing.

Click to download Dairy intakes in older irish adults and effects on vitamin micronutrient status: data from the TUDA study.

Click to download Greater yogurt consumption is associated with increased bone mineral density and physical function in older adults

Building on research demonstrating the effectiveness of milk and milk components in specific areas of sports nutrition, the NDC partnered with the University of Limerick to undertake a research project evaluating milk as an effective rehydration drink following exercise. The NDC has financed a Postgraduate Educational Training Grant which enabled dietitian Suzanne Seery to undertake an MSc in late 2013.

The aim of this research project was to build on, and expand, existing knowledge regarding the potential of milk as a post-exercise rehydration drink.

Click here to download the research paper – A metered intake of milk following exercise and thermal dehydration restores whole-body net fluid balance better than a carbohydrate–electrolyte solution or water in healthy young men

In November 2013, the NDC was awarded further funding from the Dairy Research Trust Co-operative Society Ltd. to commission an additional dairy-specific analysis of data from the National Adult Nutrition Survey. This follow-on analysis focuses on ≥ 65 year olds, providing up-to-date figures on, and insights into, dairy consumption trends among this population group.

Full Analysis

Report on the Contribution of Dairy Foods to the Nutritional Quality of the Diet in Older Irish Adults (Aged 65 Years and Older)

Highlights

This analysis was financed by a grant awarded to The National Dairy Council by The Dairy Research Trust Co-operative Society Ltd.

In 2012, the NDC commissioned dairy-specific analysis of the National Adult Nutrition Survey (NANS). This survey, conducted by the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA), investigated habitual food and beverage consumption in a representative sample of Irish adults between 2008 and 2010. This dairy-specific analysis evaluated the contribution of the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group to the nutritional quality of the diet of Irish adults aged 18-64 years:

Full Analysis

Report on the Contribution of Dairy Foods to the Nutritional Quality of the Irish Adult Diet

Highlights

Erratum, Oct 2014

A serving of processed cheese was originally quantified as 50g instead of 35g. The data have been re-analysed using 35g resulting in minor changes to mean daily servings of processed cheese, total cheese and total dairy and to percentages of the population classified as under consumers, consumers and over consumers. The relevant tables (tables 4(a), 4(b), 4(c) and 5(a)) have been revised to reflect this re-analysis: click here to access revised tables.

Study Rationale

Cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) is one of the first and most common food allergies reported in the paediatric population. It is also one of the main causes of anaphylaxis in the first two years of life. However, the management of CMPA is debated around the world. The majority of CMPA resolves spontaneously in childhood and hence many European countries recommend strict avoidance of all milk products. 

In Ireland, CMPA is treated using oral immunotherapy (OIT), also known as the milk ladder, with good results. However, novel treatments have been published recently that could give a different approach to the management of CMPA. One of these treatments is the use of early OIT at the moment of diagnosis. This treatment option has been found to be safe and successful, and is suggestive of the possibility of a new management strategy for IgE-mediated CMPA in the future. 

Study Methodology

This study will compare three cohorts of paediatric patients diagnosed with CMPA from the three hospitals participating in this study. Retrospective analysis will be used to compare the effectiveness of each management plan. The results of this study will help guide the future management of CMPA.

Objectives and Endpoints 

Primary objective –  to compare the rate of acquired tolerance of three different IgE-mediated CMPA treatment strategies. The primary outcome is to determine the tolerance acquisition to cow’s milk proteins, which will be defined as the intake of 200ml of cow’s milk or the equivalent intake of 6g of milk protein daily without any symptomatology.

Secondary objectives –  to conduct an anthropometric comparison of the three cohorts, to compare the difference in outcome of the three treatments in CMPA IgE-mediated in patients who have other food allergies and to conduct an analysis of immunological values between the three cohorts.

Principal Investigator

Dr Juan Trujillo Wurttele, Consultant Paediatric Allergist in Cork University Hospital

Study Funding

This study is funded by the National Dairy Council and Dairy Research Ireland

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