PCRM Goes to Court Over False Dairy Weight-Loss Claims
On June 28, PCRM filed two separate lawsuits to stop a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign claiming that milk facilitates weight loss. PCRM charges the National Dairy Council, the International Dairy Foods Association, Dairy Management, Inc., Dannon Company, Kraft Foods, General Mills, and other dairy manufacturers with purposefully misleading consumers. PCRM also has filed petitions with the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration, calling on both agencies to take immediate action against the false health claims. The lawsuits were filed in the circuit court for the city of Alexandria, Va.
What You Can Do
Contact the USDA: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Agency oversees the milk-mustache promotional campaign. Please contact associate administrator Kenneth C. Clayton at 202-720-4276 or Kenneth.Clayton@usda.gov and tell him to suspend any ads claiming that dairy product consumption aids in weight loss.
Contact the FTC: The Federal Trade Commission regulates health claims in advertisements. Please support PCRM’s petition by asking the agency to halt the dairy industry’s weight-loss claims.
The dairy industry’s main contention is that consumption of 24 ounces of dairy a day will somehow help dieters lose body weight and body fat. But scientific studies contradict the claim, as PCRM’s senior nutrition scientist Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D., wrote in Obesity Research this Summer. Studies show that adding dairy products to one’s diet does nothing for weight loss. If anything, it contributes to weight gain. So how does the industry get away with these claims?
Industry Fabricated Health Claims
The claims are based on two studies by Michael Zemel, Ph.D., a researcher funded by the National Dairy Council and the breakfast and yogurt manufacturers. Zemel’s studies were small, poorly controlled, and reported with only minimal details; they have also yielded inconsistent results.
Zemel has received at least $1.68 million in research grants from the National Dairy Council since 1998. He also patented his so-called weight-loss program and licensed it to the International Dairy Food Association to market and promote.
Dairy marketers know that government regulation of health claims is lax. PCRM has uncovered documents from an April 2003 dairy marketing meeting in which industry reps concluded that a weight-loss claim would be likely to withstand scrutiny because of the FDA’s newly relaxed standards.
PCRM Asks Dr. Phil to Get Real
He’s known for pushing others to face the facts. So PCRM’s new advertising campaign asks Dr. Phil McGraw to set the record straight about those bogus dairy industry claims. Despite the hype, milk does not help anyone lose weight.