For years, the dairy industry has spent millions trying to convince Americans that dairy products can help them stay slim. Paid TV and movie stars from Brooke Shields to Dr. Phil have appeared in the high-profile milk mustache ads.
A new paper published in Nutrition Reviews in May showed that dairy products do not reliably help people lose weight or fat and can, in fact, cause weight gain.
PCRM senior scientist and lead author Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D., co-authored the scientific review with PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D. The two carefully reviewed every study conducted from 1966 through August 2007 that examined whether dairy or calcium supplementation causes weight loss. Some of the studies restricted calories; some did not.
Of the 49 studies that Drs. Lanou and Barnard analyzed, 41 showed no effect on weight loss. Two showed that dairy products increased body weight. The only studies that showed weight loss or body fat loss were funded by the dairy industry. None of the 18 studies looking at children or adolescents showed that dairy products helped at all.
In 2007, PCRM won a victory against the industry when the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and two national dairy industry organizations responded to a PCRM petition by agreeing to stop the weight-loss campaign because existing research did not support their claims. Rather than honor this agreement, the dairy industry simply reworded the ads, toning down its claims only slightly.