Dairy Industry Dishonest in New Weight-Loss Gimmick Campaign
Industry Side-Steps Evidence that Dairy Products Increase Weight
WASHINGTON—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) today blasted the National Dairy Council for launching a deceptive campaign designed to push the false notion that consuming more dairy products leads to a trimmer waistline.
National Dairy Council’s “Healthy Weight with Dairy” campaign, to be launched tomorrow, is based on studies performed on mice and on human studies that relied on calorie restriction. However, human studies in which individuals added dairy products to their diet did not result in weight loss, the doctors point out. Rather, dairy products have either had no effect at all or even caused weight gain.
In crafting its marketing campaign, the dairy industry even overlooked some of its own research. A 2003 study published in the International Journal of Obesity, funded in part by the National Dairy Council, found that dairy food consumption over the adolescent period had no effect at all on body mass index or body fat.
“The weight-loss claim is absurd,” said Dr. Amy Joy Lanou, PCRM’s nutrition director. “Most cheeses get about 70 percent of their calories from fat, and even skim milk is 55 percent sugar, as a percentage of calories. These are not slimming foods. Annual cheese intake went from 15 pounds per person to 30 pounds per person between 1975 and 1999, and it is a likely culprit in the current obesity epidemic. Dairy products are also being studied for their role in causing serious health problems, including diabetes, some cancers, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis,” said Dr. Lanou.
While the dairy industry campaign offers dairy products, even the higher-fat options, as a solution to childhood obesity, it ignores research conducted on this issue. The weight of children and adolescents treated with either dairy products or calcium supplements has not been found to be different from untreated controls in any of the twelve randomized controlled trials investigating the effect of dairy or calcium supplements on bone health. Some similar trials in adults have shown greater increases in body weight in the dairy product treated groups as compared to control participants.
“Dairy products are especially dangerous for children, with one in six children suffering from obesity. This sets them up for serious health problems later in life,” Dr. Lanou said. “According to the National Institute of Child Health and Development, fluid milk is the number-one source of total fat and artery-clogging saturated fat in the diets of US children. The dairy industry should be ashamed for its dishonesty—using selective data to mislead parents and to try to skew government nutrition policy.”
PCRM advocates a low-fat vegetarian diet that is free from all dairy products, for health reasons and weight loss.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.