The American Medical Association (AMA), the largest organization of physicians and medical students in the United States, has called for an amendment of the federal law that mandates that children must be served cow’s milk with school lunch. By doing so, the AMA hopes to combat long-held racism in health policies.
Per the “National School Lunch Act,” children are required to take a carton of milk unless they produce special documentation indicating “disability or a special medical or dietary need” in order to receive a non-dairy alternative.
A PCRM representative told LIVEKINDLY that in order to push back against the National School Lunch Act policy, the AMA hopes to change the “Culturally Responsive Dietary and Nutritional Guidelines,” which state that the USDA must consider its guidelines from a multicultural perspective. The amended policy would require federal law to “recognize” the prevalence of lactose intolerance as a “common and normal condition among many Americans, especially African Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.”
In addition to that, the AMA hopes to build upon existing research and identify opportunities in which organized medicine can do better to deliver “culturally effective care.”
The AMA also recommended that the USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services update federal Dietary Guidelines, as well as other federal nutrition guidelines, to state that meat and dairy products are optional. While meat and dairy have long been considered necessary to living a healthful life, recent medical evidence shows that a plant-based diet may be the healthiest way to eat.
Neal Barnard, president of PCRM praised the AMA for taking steps to address the racist policy: “I want to salute the American Medical Association (AMA) for addressing racial disparities in heart disease, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. In each of these, deaths among African Americans are much higher than for whites. The reason is not genetics; it’s food … Until now, federal guidelines have pushed meat for protein and dairy for calcium, and schools have taught the same thing to children.”
A growing body of medical studies highlight meat and dairy as key drivers of a variety of health conditions such as heart disease, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, and more. Recent research by the World Cancer Research Fund suggests that cutting out meat and dairy can lower the risk of such diseases by as much as 40 percent.