Top Nutrition Trends for 2018


To help make healthy eating easy, Dairy Council of California’s staff review and analyze various publications that report on nutrition issues to provide education and health professionals the trends in nutrition research, education, policy and communications. Here are a few of the top trends our team observed for 2018:

Overabundance of choice complicates healthy eating

Now more than ever families are faced with an overabundance of food product choices. The market of alternative foods and beverages is becoming more crowded and competitive, with a growing diversity of products within the food groups. The “selling of absence,” or valuing foods for components they lack (e.g., sugar-free, low-sodium, non-GMO, and cage-free) is also causing overcrowding on market shelves. While the increase of choices in the food environment holds many benefits, especially for those with specific needs, it can also lead to unintended health consequences by causing confusion or displacing important food groups and nutrients.

Building critical thinking skills through hands-on activities like cooking, trying new foods and gardening can help consumers and their families make better food decisions.

Dairy is often looked as a part of a healthy, plant-based eating pattern

Eating patterns that are plant-based and include a wide variety of Dairy, Fruits and Vegetables, Whole Grains and Protein are supported by science for long-term health and well-being. In fact, all three eating patterns recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) are plant-based and include 2-3 servings of Dairy. However, health messages to the public often define plant-based as plant only, or vegan. If poorly planned, these diets may be deficient in protein, calcium, vitamin B12 and iron, all important nutrients for optimal health. 

It is important for consumers and families to be educated on healthy eating patterns, including milk and dairy foods, as outlined in the DGAs for optimal health. 

Preventing childhood obesity starts at a young at pregnancy

Research has identified that good nutrition during pregnancy and in the first two years of life are critical for lifelong health and preventing chronic diseases.[2] Exposing infants and toddlers to nutritious foods from the start may help combat childhood obesity.

Establishing healthy eating patterns in pregnant women, infants and young children is a key component of obesity prevention efforts.

Millennials food preferences are influencing how Americans eat

Growing up in the age of the internet and social media, millennials view the world with a wider lens to assess information. As a result, they have a broader set of food-related values, which impacts how they choose to feed themselves and their families. Food marketers are responding (add how here)

It is important for nutrition and health education to factor in these value systems. Promoting online nutrition education tools is one way to meet millennials where they are at.

To see the full Trends report visit Dairy Council of California’s website at


Candice Sainz, Community Nutrition Adviser, Technical Advising Professional, Dairy Council of California

Kristal Shelden, Project Manager, Dairy Council of California

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 Eight Edition. Accessed 20 February 2018.

Schwarzenberg SJ, Georgieff MK. Advocacy for improving nutrition in the first 1000 days to support childhood development and adult health. Pediatrics. 2018;141(2):e20173716. doi: Accessed February 13, 2018.