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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE July 25, 2000

Doctors Denounce Milk Ads Starring Marc Anthony, Britney Spears, and Other Celebs as Deceptive

Group Petitions the FTC to Investigate

WASHINGTON—A doctors' organization will file a petition tomorrow with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requesting an immediate investigation into health claims in "milk mustache" ads featuring Marc Anthony, Britney Spears, and other celebrities. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) will ask the FTC to investigate whether the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board, the Milk Industry Foundation, the International Dairy Foods Association, and Bozell Worldwide, Inc., an advertising agency, have disseminated scientifically unsubstantiated, purposefully deceptive, and harmful advertising.

The new Marc Anthony ad implies that milk can help prevent osteoporosis in Hispanic Americans. What fans "need to know," the doctors group says, is that there is little or no evidence that Hispanic Americans benefit from milk-drinking. To add insult to injury, the majority of Hispanic Americans—like Asian-, African-, and Native Americans—are lactose intolerant and experience gastrointestinal problems from milk.

The Latin heartthrob is one of dozens of celebrities whose images have been exploited to sell milk. A Britney Spears ad advises girls to get four glasses a day, which add up to 33 grams of fat, including 20 grams of heart-clogging saturated fat. "Britney's ad might as well be captioned, ‘Oops, I did it again—sold out for an unhealthy product,'" says PCRM president Neal D. Barnard, M.D. Other celebrities unknowingly contributing to the milk-is-good-for-you myth include the Dixie Chicks, Larry King, Tyra Banks, and even the cartoon Simpsons.

"The dairy industry continues to whitewash the dangers of cow's milk," says Dr. Barnard. "The ubiquitous ‘milk mustache' campaign makes misleading claims about milk preventing osteoporosis, lowering blood pressure, and enhancing sports performance. Recent studies, including the Harvard Nurses' Health Study, have shown that milk offers no protection against broken bones. And, unlike prescription drug ads, the mustache ads don't reveal the many unwanted ‘side-effects' of milk, among them increased risk of prostate and ovarian cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease."

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.

Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

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