WASHINGTON—Ditch the disease-causing dairy! That’s what the Physicians Committee—a nonprofit with 12,000 doctor members—says in response to a government plan to spend $50 million bailing out dairy farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will funnel 13 million gallons of milk into federal food programs, such as the National School Lunch Program.
Hundreds of doctors stood outside of the White House with a “Ditch the Dairy!” banner at the Physicians Committee’s International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine in August.
“Instead of spending millions bailing out the milk industry, the government should ditch the dairy,” says Physicians Committee president Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C. “The USDA’s milk bailout unfairly burdens students and others who rely on federal food programs with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and lactose intolerance, among other chronic health conditions.”
In June, Dr. Barnard and other Physicians Committee doctor members testified in support of a new American Medical Association resolution that could make it easier for the more than 30 million students who rely on the National School Lunch Program to receive an alternative to cow’s milk.
The AMA resolution also recognized the many Americans—especially African Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans—suffer from lactose intolerance, which causes bloating, diarrhea, and gas. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 30 million to 50 million American adults are lactose intolerant, including 95 percent of Asians, 60-80 percent of African-Americans and Ashkenazi Jews, 80-100 percent of American Indians, and 50-80 percent of Hispanics.
Scientific evidence shows that milk and other dairy products also increase the risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, cognitive decline, and early death.
A recent survey found that 50 percent of U.S. dairy consumers are ditching dairy, many for health concerns. Thirty-five percent say it’s because of lactose intolerance, 26 percent say dairy sensitivity/allergy, and 24 percent say to reduce saturated fat consumption.
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 and medical training.