The contributions of animal source food for improved health and nutrition: A webinar with the FAO


At its 27th Session in October 2020, the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) requested the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) “to produce a comprehensive, science and evidence-based global assessment of the contribution of livestock to food security, sustainable food systems, nutrition and healthy diets”.  The report series is co-led by the Animal Production and Food and Nutrition Divisions of FAO, overseen by the Livestock Sub-Committee of COAG.  During this presentation Dr. Neufeld will present an overview of the findings of the first in the series of 4 reports, this first document focusing on the Contribution of TASF to healthy diets and improved nutrition.

Do you want to read a summary of the report, including key takeaways for health professionals? Click here to learn more.

Webinaire sur la FAO de la CNS
To watch this free presentation, access CNS recordings here.

Note that this presentation is free of charge and accessible to both CNS members and non-members. 

By the end of the webinar, participants will:

  • Learn about a new series of reports being undertaken by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) related to risk and benefits of the production and consumption of terrestrial animal source foods (TASF);
  • Learn the results of a systematic review of the evidence on consumption of various types of TASF on diverse health outcomes across life stages;
  • Gain insight on the evidence gaps and opportunities related to the risks and benefits of TASF consumption.

Key Findings:

  • Micronutrient deficiencies affect all world regions:
    • In high income countries, almost 1 out of 2 women aged 15-49 years is deficient in either zinc, iron, and/or folate (data from US and UK). 
  • Animal-source foods contribute a range of important nutrients, such as high-quality protein, long chain fatty acids and essential fatty acids, zinc, vitamin B12, choline, calcium, iron, selenium, and more:
    • Dairy contributes high-quality protein, vitamin B12, calcium, selenium, among many others.
  • Different phases of the life course have unique nutritional requirements, to which animal-source foods can confer health benefits and risks, in cases of excessive intake;
  • Substantial evidence supports the benefits of milk and dairy products on:
    • Pregnancy: Improved offspring birthweight;
    • School-age children and adolescent: Greater height and lower risk of overweight/obesity;
    • Adults: Reduced all cause-mortality, lower risk of certain cancers, improved cardiometabolic health, and reduced risk of fractures/osteoporosis;
    • Older adults: Reduced risk of sarcopenia, frailty, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Evidence also supports health benefits associated to other animal-source foods such as eggs (improved nutrient intake) and meat (improved iron status in adults and muscle health);
  • Evidence on the health risks of terrestrial animal-source foods largely depends on the food and on the amount consumed.
Want to learn more about the nutrients in milk products?


  1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2023. Contribution of terrestrial animal source food to healthy diets for improved nutrition and health outcomes. Rome. Accessed on May 29, 2023.
Dr. Lynnette Neufeld


Director of the Food and Nutrition Division, FAO

Dr. Lynnette Neufeld began her career in an academic position at the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico where she led a variety of implementation research and impact evaluation studies to improve the impact potential of social protection programs in Mexico and the region. She then brought her passion for improving the generation and utilization of evidence in program design and delivery to non-governmental organizations, most recently the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, before joining FAO as Director of the Food and Nutrition Division in early 2022.  Dr Neufeld is President of the International Union of Nutrition Scientists (IUNS), Past-Chair of the Micronutrient Forum Steering Committee, former Board member of the American Society for Nutrition, and has been member of several WHO and other technical advisory groups.  She has published over 150 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and holds a Master’s and PhD in International Nutrition from Cornell University.