Sometimes a cliché says it best: There’s no use crying over spilled milk. But that’s just what the milk industry plans on doing with its new “Get Real” campaign that launches this past Tuesday.
Science long ago proved that dairy milk is not only just damaging to human health; it’s deadly. So people stopped drinking it in droves in favor of plant-based milks. But the National Dairy Council and Dairy Management Inc. are teaming up to shamelessly try and convince us to keep drinking the harmful stuff. It’s too late. Milk sales continue to sharply decline for good reason.
There’s no refuting the growing and well-established body of evidence showing milk’s dangers. In October, Physicians Committee president Neal Barnard, M.D., wrote about a study in the British Medical Journal —that the “Get Real” campaign is desperately trying dispel—that followed 61,433 women and 45,339 men for more than 20 years and 11 years, respectively, and found that high cow’s milk intake is associated with increased risk for bone fractures and death.
Milk holds many other dangers, too. Milk and other dairy products are the top sources of saturated fat in the American diet and exacerbate America’s No. 1 killer: heart disease. Milk also increases the risk of prostate, ovarian, and other cancers. And it causes cramping, diarrhea, and bloating for the 65 percent of the population who are lactose intolerant. Skim and nonfat milks get most of their calories come from sugar—lactose—which is why one cup of skim milk has more sugar than a serving of Lucky Charms.
If you feel like you’ve heard this before, there’s a good reason. You have. Studies regularly show that milk is menacing. And the milk industry keeps trying to cover up those facts by spreading misleading information about the nonexistent health benefits of milk. So we keep debunking them.
The Physicians Committee has a long history (see our timeline below) of refuting the milk industry’s false claims. And its “Get Real” campaign will be no exception.
A Brief History of Milk Promotion
- 1970: The United Dairy Industry Association is formed.
- 1983: Congress enacts the Dairy and Tobacco Adjustment Act and the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board is created. The USDA approves the checkoff program.
- 1992: Distinguished pediatrician Benjamin Spock, M.D., joins the Physicians Committee’s call for parental warnings about the link between dairy products and type 1 diabetes.
- 1995: Dairy Management Inc. is created to increase demand for U.S.-produced dairy products on behalf of America’s dairy product producers. Checkoff dollars help fund the organization.
- March 1995: Two months after the dairy product industry’s introduction of its “milk mustache” advertising campaign, the Physicians Committee files a petition with the FTC requesting an investigation into health claims made in the ads.
- 1998: Dairy Management Inc. and the Milk Processor Education Program launch a national program to market milk.
- April 1999: The Physicians Committee files a second petition with the FTC requesting an investigation into health claims made by “milk mustache” ads.
- July 2000: The Physicians Committee files a third petition with the FTC requesting an investigation into health claims made by “milk mustache” ads.
- March 2001: The Physicians Committee files a petition with the FTC requesting an investigation into misleading ads about dairy products’ effect on hypertension.
- September 2001: A USDA panel backs the Physicians Committee’s complaint that the dairy product industry’s “milk mustache” and “Got milk?” campaigns have no scientific basis for suggesting that milk consumption improves sports performance. The panel recommends that ads promoting whole milk should indicate that it increases the risk of prostate cancer and heart disease.
- October 2002: The Physicians Committee petitions the USDA to require nondairy alternatives to milk in the National School Lunch Program.
- March 2005: Physicians Committee experts publish a review in Pediatrics showing there is little scientific evidence to support the claim that milk drinking helps children grow strong bones.
- April 2005: The Physicians Committee petitions the FTC to put an immediate stop to a false and misleading multimillion-dollar dairy product industry campaign that suggests milk causes weight loss.
- June 2005: The Physicians Committee sues milk companies and dairy product trade associations for their false and misleading weight-loss advertising campaign.
- May 2007: In response to an FTC petition filed by the Physicians Committee, national dairy product advertising campaigns overseen by the USDA stop claiming that dairy products cause weight loss.
- November 2009: The Physicians Committee calls for an end to the dairy product industry’s “Raise Your Hand for Chocolate Milk” campaign aimed at keeping chocolate milk in America’s school lunch lines.
- May 2012: A Physicians Committee survey finds that only 7 percent of individuals in households with children ages 13 to 17 know that skim milk and Coca-Cola have about the same number of calories.
- July 2012: The Physicians Committee petitions the USDA to remove milk as a required food from the school lunch program, because it does not promote bone health and is the biggest source of saturated fat in the American diet.
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.