Nonprofit Doctors Groups Drops Food Giant from Ongoing Lawsuit
Kraft No Longer Running Dairy-Weight Loss Advertising
Washington, D.C.—Kraft Foods, Inc., has confirmed that it is no longer running advertisements suggesting that dairy products encourage weight loss. In response to Kraft’s statement, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has dropped Kraft from a lawsuit that called the advertisements deceptive. In late June, PCRM filed suit against Kraft, General Mills, Dannon, McNeill Nutritionals, Lifeway Foods, the National Dairy Council, Dairy Management, Inc., and the International Dairy Foods Association charging that the heavily advertised claim that dairy products encourage weight loss is scientifically unsubstantiated. After the suit was filed, Kraft stated publicly and then confirmed in subsequent discussions with PCRM that it had no plans to restart them. Kraft, the only defendant who has entered into discussions with PCRM to date, is the first defendant dropped from the suit. The Illinois-based corporation—along with other major dairy associations and manufacturers—has been promoting increased dairy consumption as a weight-loss method since 2003.
One of Kraft’s ads featured a giant block of cheese engraved with the words “Burn More Fat,” and another featured an hourglass-shaped package of cheese. The company is updating language on its Web site related to dairy consumption and weight. The dairy industry’s campaign has come under increased scrutiny from other health advocates and researchers.
PCRM’s lawsuit maintains that scientific evidence contradicts the dairy industry’s weight-loss claims. The only studies that support the claims were conducted by Michael Zemel, Ph.D., an industry-funded researcher at the University of Tennessee. Since 1998, Zemel has accepted nearly $1.7 million in research grants from the National Dairy Council. He has also patented his weight-loss program; consequently, advertisers pay Zemel to use his so-called “calcium key” weight-loss program.
Other researchers have not been able to confirm Zemel’s findings. They have found that dairy products either have no effect on weight or cause weight gain.
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.