Close Send this page to a friend

Your link and message have been sent!

Close Send this page to a friend
* required
Oops! You forgot to fill in some required information.

Back to Experts' Summaries

Barriers to Milk Consumption

Data from nutrition surveys confirm that, despite increased knowledge about nutrition and health, Canadians still aren't getting the number of servings of milk products recommended by the Food Guide.1 Fruit and vegetable consumption is poor, but that of milk and milk products is even worse in teenagers and adults.1

The per capita consumption of milk in Canada is 62 liters per year.2 That translates to a mere 170 ml/person/day…not even 2⁄3 cup. Cheese consumption is just 24 g/person/day2 and, despite its growing popularity, yogourt comes in at only about 15 ml per day (1 tbsp).2

The question is, why? Data from consumers indicate there are numerous barriers to milk consumption.3

Competition: There are so many choices out there: soft drinks, sport drinks, wine, coffee, tea and bottled water; milk is often just an afterthought—28% of Canadians don’t think of it at all.3 Moreover, from adolescence on there is a substantial incremental shift away from milk.4

Dining out: Canadians are eating more and more meals outside the home, and they’re not ordering milk; 93% is drunk at home.4

Fat: About a third of adults worry that milk is high in fat and calories3 even though 87% of all milk sold in Canada is 2%, 1% or skim, and most whole milk is likely drunk by children. Concern about the fat in cheese also makes consumers more likely to limit their intake or avoid it altogether rather than opt for low-fat varieties.5

Purity: Twenty percent of consumers are unnecessarily concerned about the purity of milk.3 They should know that cows in Canada are not injected with hormones to increase milk production and that milk is rigorously tested against antibiotic residues when it gets to the dairy plant.

Did You Know...

  • About two-thirds of consumers try to drink eight glasses of water daily,3 despite no specific requirement for water as a beverage in the new recommendations.6 Tell them milk is 90% water and contains nutrients water doesn’t.
  • Consumers need encouragement to have milk with meals and yogourt or cheese as a snack.
  • Consumers need reminding that milk is one of the most tested and safest of foods in our food supply.

Written by Helen Bishop MacDonald, M.Sc., R.D., F.C.D.A., Nutrisphere


  1. Garriquet D. 2006. Nutrition: Findings from the Canadian Community Health Survey Overview of Canadians’ Eating Habits, 2004.Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 82-620MIE-No.2, ISSN: 1716-6713, ISBN: 0-662-4317-2.
  2. Statistics Canada. 2006. Food Statistics, 2005. Ministry of Industry, Ottawa. Catalogue no. 21-020-XIE.
  3. Commins Wingrove. 2006. The Milk Barrier Study (National data).
  4. TSN Canadian Facts. 2003. SIP (Share of Intake Panel ).
  5. Research Management Group. 2005. Cheese Usage & Attitudes (National data).
  6. Institute of Medicine. 2004. Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium. Chloride and Sulfate. National Academy of Science, Washington, DC.

Keywords: health studies

  • Educational Material Educational Material Educational Material
    Educational Material

    Need educational resources for your practice? Download copies online, or order print versions free of charge.

    Make a request
  • /newsletter

    Every month, articles of interest are featured in our NutriNews Bulletin. Sign up today to stay up to date on the latest scientific evidence and research.

    Sign up