Today I’m here to bring you my last educational post through my partnership with the National Dairy Council. I will be back with just one more recipe after this post, and remember all the information I’ve brought you from my NDC partnership is available on my new Lactose Intolerance page.
In my very first introduction post to lactose intolerance, we discussed that the self-reported rate of lactose intolerance in the United States is approximately 12 percent, but those who think they have lactose intolerance may incorrectly self-diagnose. For this reason, I always recommend getting the proper diagnostic testing performed to determine what is really happening in your body and to prevent masking a different intestinal disorder due to incorrect self-diagnosis. Today we are going to continue this discussion with information on prevalence of self versus actual diagnosis of lactose intolerance, as well as prevalence differences among different ethnic groups.
The prevalence of lactose intolerance varies among different ethnic and racial groups in the United States, however, its true prevalence is not known. Estimates have been gathered for the prevalence of lactose maldigestion based on large studies from the 1970s, but more research is needed on the topic. Remember, lactose maldigestion is not the same as lactose intolerance, but these numbers can give us a glimpse into how lactase differences vary among ethnic groups. Reminder:
- Lactose maldigestion: incomplete digestion of lactose, due to low activity of the lactase enzyme; may be asymptomatic
- Lactose intolerance: gastrointestinal disturbances following the consumption of an amount of lactose greater than the body’s ability to digest and absorb. This is a clinical condition.
It is important to identify the true source of digestive discomfort, as it may not be lactose intolerance. Hence, why diagnostic testing is so important. Did you know that:
- Despite the high prevalence of lactose maldigestion estimated in African Americans and Hispanics, far fewer report being lactose intolerant.
- Later studies also indicate that lactose intolerance is overestimated… meaning lactose intolerance is LOWER than previously estimated. A 2009 study revealed prevalence estimates of lactose intolerance to be:
- About 8 percent of Caucasians, compared to earlier lactose maldigestion estimates of 15 percent
- Roughly 10 percent of Mexican Americas, compared to earlier lactose maldigestion estimates of 50 percent
- About 19.5 percent of African Americans, compared to earlier lactose maldigestion estimates of 80 percent
As previously discussed, self-diagnosis can often be wrong and result in unnecessary reduced intake of calcium, vitamin D and dairy foods. Heath experts agree that it is important for people with lactose intolerance to get the health and nutritional benefits associated with milk and milk products, and encourage daily consumption of dairy foods.
Stayed tuned for my last post with this NDC partnership – a yummy muffin recipe is coming right up!
- NDC: Lactose Intolerance Among Different Ethnic Groups. Accessed August 2013.
- NDC: Managing Lactose Intolerance – Understanding the Latest Research and Implementing Practical Solutions for Maintaining a Healthy Diet. Accessed August 2013.
- NDDIC: Lactose Intolerance. Accessed August 2013.
- NIH: NIH Consensus Development Conference Statement: Lactose Intolerance and Health. Accessed August 2013.
National Dairy Council Resources