USDA and Dairy Industry Halt Misleading Weight-Loss Ads
By Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
May 13, 2007 - 7:50:30 PM
USDA and Dairy Industry Halt Misleading Weight-Loss Ads After Physicians Group Complains to Federal Trade Commission
Cheese and Milk Actually Likely to Cause Weight Gain, Doctors Say
WASHINGTONâIn a victory for consumers, two national dairy advertising campaigns overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will stop claiming that dairy products cause weight loss because such claims are not supported by existing scientific research, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced in a letter to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). The decision, which comes in response to an FTC petition filed by PCRM, will end misleading claims made in the âMilk Your Diet. Lose Weightâ and â3-A-Day. Burn More Fat, Lose Weightâ promotions.
In the FTC petition, PCRM charged that the dairy industry has used false and misleading advertising in its multimillion-dollar, celebrity-filled marketing campaign suggesting that consuming milk and other dairy products causes weight loss. In response, the FTCâs Division of Advertising Practices met with USDA staff and representatives of the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board and the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board, who agreed to discontinue all advertising and other marketing activities involving weight-loss claims pending further research into the issue. The decision also applies to affiliated entities, including Dairy Management Inc.
âMilk and cheese are more likely to pack on pounds than help people slim down,â said Dan Kinburn, PCRMâs general counsel. âThis case calls into question other advertising claims made by the industry, especially the notion that milk builds strong bones. Evidence shows it does nothing of the kind.â
The dairy industryâs weight-loss campaign was based largely on small studies conducted by Michael Zemel, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at the University of Tennessee whose funding came from dairy industry sources. Independent research, including a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has found that dairy product consumption either has little or no effect on weight loss or actually increases body weight.
A recent study in the International Journal of Cancer found a disturbing link between dairy consumption and increased prostate cancer risk, something previously identified in two Harvard studies.
For a copy of the FTC letter or an interview with Mr. Kinburn or a PCRM physician or nutritionist, please contact Patrick Sullivan at 510-834-8680.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, especially good nutrition. PCRM also conducts clinical research studies, opposes unethical human experimentation, and promotes alternatives to animal research.