The announcement Monday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will begin adding greek yogurt to subsidized children’s school lunches is bad news for the minorities the program is aimed at, because African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans have disproportionately high levels of lactose intolerance.
The injection of greek yogurt into the lunch program is being pushed aggressively by Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, whose New York dairy farms stand to benefit from the explosion in use of the newly popular greek yogurt.
According to a variety of sources, including the website WebMD and the U.C. Davis NCMHD Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics, anywhere from some 75-100 percent of blacks, Mexicans and Native Americans are lactose intolerant. By contrast, only about five percent of descendants of Northern Europeans have issues will milk, with the exceptions of Ashkenazi Jews – more than three quarters of whom are also lactose intolerant.
The symptoms of lactose intolerance can be excruciating, including nausea, cramps, painful gas, flatulence – what school kid wants to be doing that all afternoon? – bloating, and diarrhea. The symptoms develop within 30 minutes to two hours after consumption.
The likelihood of developing a response, as well as the severity, are related to the amount of milk product consumed. School cafeterias offering greek yogurt are doubtlessly not going to pull milk off the menu, meaning children can easily get two servings of dairy at a single meal. Should something like cheeseburgers or mac and cheese be on the menu that day, a lactose intolerant child’s body could be subject to a massive incursion of dairy.
Fortunately, it’s not clear whether children will like greek yogurt. It’s more sour than standard American yogurt and may not appeal to kids’ cravings for pure sweetness.