Physicians Group Complaint to Federal Trade Commission Faults Milk Industry's Advertising Claims
Dairy Products Weight-Loss Claims Are Untrue, Says PCRM in FTC Petition
WASHINGTON—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) today charged that the dairy industry has used “false and misleading” advertising in its multimillion-dollar campaign suggesting that milk causes weight loss, and petitioned the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), asking it to put an immediate stop to a series of advertisements.
“Scientific studies show that milk either causes weight gain or else has no effect at all on weight or body fat,” said Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D., senior nutrition scientist of PCRM. In addition to filing this FTC petition, PCRM has called upon celebrities who have been paid to support the dairy promotion, including Dr. Phil McGraw and actress Kelly Preston, to dissolve their contractual relationships promoting dairy products.
The dairy industry’s weight-loss campaign is based solely on two small studies conducted by Michael Zemel, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at the University of Tennessee whose funding came from industry sources.
“Nonfat milk is 55 percent sugar, while whole milk is nearly 50 percent fat, as a percentage of calories,” said Lanou. “Neither one is a formula for weight loss.”
Conflict of interest questions have also been raised.
Since 1998, Zemel has accepted more than $1.68 million in research grants from the National Dairy Council. Zemel has patented the so-called calcium consumption weight-loss/control program, and has licensed the International Dairy Food Association (IDFA) to market and promote the program.
Named in the FTC petition are the IDFA; Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI); the National Dairy Council; the Dannon Company, Inc.; General Mills, Inc.; Kraft Foods Global, Inc.; McNeil Nutritionals, LLC; Lifeway Foods, Inc.; and advertising agencies Draft Chicago, Lowe & Partners, and Weber-Shandwick.
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.