New Scientific Review Shows Dairy Products Do Not Help Weight Loss
Paper in May’s Nutrition Reviews Has Strong Implications for Dairy Industry’s Multimillion-Dollar Ad Campaign
WASHINGTON—A new scientific review in May’s peer-reviewed journal Nutrition Reviews shows that people who consume dairy products are likely to gain weight or show no effect in terms of body weight or body fat. Two large observational studies led by Harvard researchers, one including 12,829 adolescents and the other involving more than 19,000 adult men, found that dairy consumption is linked to weight gain. Of the 49 randomized controlled studies analyzed for this review, two showed weight gain, and most of the studies, 41, showed no effect. The only studies showing weight loss were led by industry-funded researchers.
“A thorough analysis of the scientific literature shows that dairy industry claims about weight loss have no factual basis,” says Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and the lead author of the new paper. “Consumers who see ads featuring slim celebrities and add dairy to their diets in hopes of losing weight are likely to gain weight instead. Even children who consume low-fat milk are at risk for unhealthy weight gain.”
These findings have important implications for a multimillion-dollar dairy industry advertising campaign featuring Brooke Shields, Glenn Close, and other celebrities.
Two national dairy organizations agreed last year to halt dairy-weight loss advertising because existing research does not support its claims. That agreement came in response to a petition filed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) with the Federal Trade Commission. Rather than honor this agreement, the dairy industry has reworded its ads. The current ads, such as one featuring Brooke Shields, still falsely imply that dairy product consumption is linked to weight loss.
Dr. Lanou, a senior nutrition scientist with PCRM, has also published a paper in the highly regarded journal Pediatrics and is an authority on child health as well as weight maintenance in both adults and children.
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.
Jeanne S. McVey
Amy Lanou, Ph.D.
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