The dairy industry has been promoting the idea that consuming dairy products can be helpful in losing weight, which is not supported by any scientific research. Lack of scientific validation has never stopped the industry from making claims before, however. The dairy industry has spent $290 million since 2003 to advertise the idea that milk helps people lose weight.
In fact, research shows the opposite. A recent study of 12,829 children showed that the more milk they drank, the more weight they gained. Those consuming more than three servings of dairy products per day were 35% more likely to develop a weight problem than those who consumed only one or two. The data were collected from kids between the ages of 9 and 14 who lived in all 50 states, starting in 1996 as part of the Growing Up Today Study. This project has been examining the relationship between diet, exercise and other health issues. Catherine Berkey of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who led the study stated, “The take-home message is that children should not be drinking milk as a means of losing weight or trying to control weight.” She went on to say, “I went into this project expecting that drinking milk would have some weight benefit for children. So I was surprised when it turned out the way it did-but the dairy industry tells children and adults “Drink more milk and you will lose weight.” I think that’s misleading.
One issue the researchers looked at was whether or not children benefited from replacing soft drinks with milk. There was no benefit.
An obesity researcher with Columbia University, Xavier Pi-Sunyer, stated “There’s been a lot of talk recently that somehow calcium in dairy products improves your ability to lose weight. There’s certainly no evidence of that in this study.”
This study appears in the June issue (2005) of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
The study’s findings haven’t budged the dairy industry a bit. Their dietitian spokesperson, Isabel Maples, says, “Our message has always been conservative – that three servings a day as part of a reduced calorie diet may help promote weight loss.” I’ve seen the ads on television and I don’t think that’s the message most people are getting. Furthermore, a reduced calorie diet with or without milk will cause weight loss. Attributing any of the results to dairy consumption is incredibly misleading.
The dairy industry continues to have supporters that are not influenced by scientific information either. “There are a number of studies that show a positive effect of milk,” said Michael B. Zemel of the University of Tennessee. “Increasing dairy augments the effects of cutting calories.” Did I mention that Zemel received extensive funding from the dairy industry?