Growing Stronger, Healthier Kids with Beef
I was a “city girl” – until I married a third-generation dairy farmer. Since then, my husband and I have been actively involved in running our family dairy in Okarche, Oklahoma. Many of those years were also spent raising our four children, and now, we also have 10 beautiful grandchildren. It’s no wonder that as a wife, mom and grandma, I’ve always been very interested in health and nutrition. I’ve spent decades cooking meals I hoped were nutritious enough to help my kids grow up into healthy, vibrant adults. Now, as a co-chair of the Beef Checkoff’s Nutrition and Health Committee, I’m taking my interest in healthy eating and applying it to help drive beef demand.
The beef checkoff’s principal role is to successfully drive demand for beef. To accomplish that goal, we need to engage with a wide variety of consumers. That’s why we’re expanding our efforts and working to reach consumer audience segments. And through the power of checkoff-funded nutrition and health research, we’ve unlocked new audience groups, from infants and toddlers to teenagers and beyond.
BEEF IN THE EARLY YEARS
We now have scientific evidence touting the beneficial role beef’s nutrients play in a child’s physical and cognitive development. The research paper “Meat Helps Every Bite Count” says that infants as young as 6 months of age need high-quality dietary sources of iron and zinc as their internal stores begin to deplete after birth. The unique, nutrient-dense matrix of red meat, such as beef, makes it an ideal first complementary food.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recently recommended animal-sourced foods, such as beef, to support healthy growth for infants and toddlers. Backed by this recommendation as well as support from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Women, Infants and Children’s Program, checkoff-funded “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” launched a “Beef in the Early Years” promotional campaign in 2021.
“Beef in the Early Years” has reached health professionals, parents and caregivers nationwide with attention-getting materials, infographics, preparation guides, eating tips, videos, recipes and more. These materials have been promoted through YouTube, Google Search, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Spotify and podcasts. Since its launch, the campaign has reached more than 32 million consumers with information that supports introducing beef to infants around six months old.
Here’s how Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. achieved those remarkable results:
- A new nutrition research paper “Meat Helps Make Every Bite Count: An Ideal First Food for Infants” was published in Nutrition Today, garnering more than 3,800 views, a number that’s expected to keep increasing.
- Messaging in top-tier nutrition and health journals, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the HealthyChildren Magazine educated health professionals about beef’s benefits. E-blasts were sent through lists provided by EatRight Pro and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- More than 2,500 health professionals registered for an educational webinar with dietitian Katie Ferraro about the nutrient adequacy and safety of incorporating solid foods – including beef – when implementing the baby-led weaning approach.
- Partnerships with five leading nutrition influencers helped reach consumers via social media and blog posts featuring tips for introducing beef to infants and recipes that the whole family could enjoy.
- An episode featuring Dr. Michael Georgieff on the popular podcast The Nourished Child was downloaded more than 2,000 times on various platforms. Georgieff highlighted the importance of iron for a child’s brain development.
BEEF FOR CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS
While beef is an important food for babies and toddlers, it’s also great for the growth and development of older children and teenagers. This past August, to mark the start of the school year and World Iron Awareness Week, the beef checkoff emphasized beef’s role in building strong minds and strong bodies. The DGA says many children and adolescents aren’t getting enough high-quality protein, iron, zinc, choline and vitamins B6 and B12. To spread the word about beef’s high-quality protein and iron, the Checkoff funded these initiatives:
- In-office educational toolkits were delivered to doctors’ offices across the nation. The toolkits included a letter, an educational tool and a tear pad for parents and caregivers. Offices have received approximately 1,500 toolkits to date, with more expected to be delivered in 2023.
- An EatRight Pro and Nutrition and Dietetics SmartBrief advertisement and e-blast provided information about beef’s key nutrients for children and teens to more than 406,000 health professionals.
- Partnerships with five leading nutrition influencers featured quick and nutritious school lunches, opportunities to increase protein and iron in adolescence and tips to ensure children build strong minds and bodies.
- Through a partnership with the Retail Dietitians Business Alliance, the checkoff shared two educational e-blasts and a sponsorship page with educational resources that emphasize the value of beef for children and teenagers.
- The beef checkoff-funded nutrition team continues to work closely with the Federation of State Beef Councils by offering an educational presentation by Dayle Hayes, MS, RD, with updates on school lunch nutrition and opportunities to support beef as part of the school lunch program.
The beef checkoff’s nutrition and health research is not only driving more demand for beef – it’s also giving parents and health professionals the resources they need to help infants, toddlers and adolescents build healthy, strong minds and bodies. Furthermore, these young people are key to beef’s future success. They’re the next generation who will be purchasing beef and cooking it for themselves and their families.
This program is yet another example of how your checkoff dollars are connecting more consumers with beef. To learn more about the Human Nutrition Research Program and “Beef in the Early Years,” visit the Beef Research website.
The Beef Checkoff program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States may retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.