FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Peak Milk?

by MARTHA ROSENBERG

Despite 20 years of “Got Milk?” mustache ads, milk consumption in the US falls more every year. The National Dairy Promotion and Research Program and the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Program cite competition from calcium-fortified and vitamin-enhanced beverages, milk’s lack of  availability “in many eating establishments” (You can’t find milk anywhere!) and a growing percentage of African Americans and Latinos in the US population who are not traditionally big milk consumers.

Many other groups also shun milk from teenagers and young adults to dieters, athletes and health-food eaters who reject the cholesterol, fat, calories and allergens. Several Asian ethnic groups also avoid milk, as do the lactose intolerant, the allergic, people who drink or smoke (the tastes don’t mix) and animal and environmental activists. In fact, Dr. Benjamin Spock, whose pediatric advice shaped the entire Baby Boom generation, recommended no milk for children after age two, in his later years, to reduce their risks of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and diet-related cancers.

To sell milk, marketers try to push the button that sells almost everything–It Will Make You Thin. But soon after debuting milk as a diet food, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition of 20,000 men who increased their intake of low-fat dairy foods found they did not lose weight. “The hypothesis that has been floating around is that increasing dairy can promote weight loss, and in this study, I did not find that,” said Swapnil Rajpathak, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

The research behind the weight-loss claims was largely conducted by Michael Zemel, PhD, director of the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee, who had “patented” the claim that calcium or dairy products could help against obesity. The patent was owned by the university and licensed to Dairy Management Inc., reported USA Today.  Zemel’s coauthor, Sharon Miller, PhD, was later ensnared in a conflict of interest mishap with the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

After investigating, the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection directed milk marketers to stop the weight-loss claims “until further research provides stronger, more conclusive evidence of an association between dairy consumption and weight loss.” Milk marketers then claimed that low-fat dairy products do not necessarily add weight and may have “certain nutrients that can help consumers meet dietary requirements”–pretty much the definition of “food,” when you think about it. Soon the marketing had been diluted to, “Soft drinks and othersweetened beverages are now the leading source of calories in a teen’s diet and these nutrient-void beverages are increasingly taking the place of milk.”

Like Big Pharma, Big Food is not above creating false medical benefits to move product. Milk marketers admit that they cite “research” to the medical and scientific press about milk’s value in breast cancer, hypertension, rickets and  osteoporosis, according to their yearly report to Congress. They also admit to wooing African Americans by continuing “to spotlight the high incidence of high blood pressure among African Americans and to promote milk and milk products as a dietary solution as part of the DASH [Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension] diet.” Marketers also educate African Americans and other groups prone to milk allergies about “misconceptions” regarding lactose intolerance and show why “it should not be a barrier to including milk in the diet,” says the report.

Of course chocolate milk has been one of milk producers’ steadiest revenue streams because it tastes a lot better to kids than unflavored milk. But thanks to growing youth obesity grows, some school districts have banned the flavored milks because of their high sugar content. Milk producers have responded by adding controversial artificial sweeteners such as aspartame to the products, despite a different sets of risks they can present. Consumers and school districts have responded negatively and milk marketers and now petitioning the FDA to omit listing them on the label altogether. The government has a long history of not labeling ingredients people want to avoid from Monsanto’s recombinant bovine growth hormone in milk to GMO crops.

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

 

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

More articles by:
May 25, 2016
Eric Draitser
Obama in Hiroshima: A Case Study in Hypocrisy
Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
Does Venezuela’s Crisis Prove Socialism Doesn’t Work?
Dan Arel
The Socialist Revolution Beyond Sanders and the Democratic Party
Marc Estrin
Cocky-Doody Politics and World Affairs
Sam Husseini
Layers of Islamophobia: Do Liberals Care That Hillary Returned “Muslim Money”?
Susan Babbitt
Invisible in Life, Invisible in Death: How Information Becomes Useless
Mel Gurtov
Hillary’s Cowgirl Diplomacy?
Kathy Kelly
Hammering for Peace
Dick Reavis
The Impeachment of Donald Trump
Wahid Azal
Behind the Politics of a Current Brouhaha in Iran: an Ex-President Ayatollah’s Daughter and the Baha’is
Jesse Jackson
Obama Must Recommit to Eliminating Nuclear Arms
Colin Todhunter
From the Green Revolution to GMOs: Living in the Shadow of Global Agribusiness
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey as Terror: the Role of Ankara in the Brexit Referendum
Dave Lindorff
72-Year-Old Fringe Left Candidate Wins Presidency in Austrian Run-Off Election
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
Uri Avnery
Israeli Weimar: It Can Happen Here
John Stauber
Why Bernie was Busted From the Beginning
James Bovard
Obama’s Biggest Corruption Charade
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
Indian Point Nuclear Plant: It Doesn’t Take a Meltdown to Harm Local Residents
Desiree Hellegers
“Energy Without Injury”: From Redwood Summer to Break Free via Occupy Wall Street
Lawrence Davidson
The Unraveling of Zionism?
Patrick Cockburn
Why Visa Waivers are Dangerous for Turks
Robert Koehler
Rethinking Criminal Justice
Lawrence Wittner
The Return of Democratic Socialism
Ha-Joon Chang
What Britain Forgot: Making Things Matters
John V. Walsh
Only Donald Trump Raises Five “Fundamental and Urgent” Foreign Policy Questions: Stephen F. Cohen Bemoans MSM’s Dismissal of Trump’s Queries
Andrew Stewart
The Occupation of the American Mind: a Film That Palestinians Deserve
Nyla Ali Khan
The Vulnerable Repositories of Honor in Kashmir
Weekend Edition
May 20, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Hillary Clinton and Political Violence
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail