Hey, here's an idea. If you're LI and don't like it, sue. Sue who? Why not sue the dairy industry?
Nutty? Of course. But as a publicity stunt it's top notch, if you're a group with an agenda.
The group is the rabidly pro-animal rights and militantly vegan Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Since they're based in the District of Columbia, they plan to file suit against dairy producers on behalf of D.C. residents who are lactose intolerant. They're asking for compensation for lactose intolerant children, along with adults who've learned that they're LI in the past three years. The other part of the suit – and the obvious real goal, as the compensation issue stands no chance – is a court order mandating that warning labels about lactose intolerance be placed on milk sold in the city.
For more publicity they've plastered the Metro rail and subway system with spoof ads of the Got Milk? campaign. The Got Lactose Intolerance? ads picture a multi-ethnic group of sufferers knocking on the door of an in-use bathroom, needing desperately to get in. And let's face it, which of us with LI hasn't been there?
One problem is that there's a big difference between choosing to avoid or limit the use of dairy products and suing the dairy industry because milk is inherently evil. Another problem is trying to take sides with two groups which are both pushing agendas using misleading data and false claims.
A report on activistcash.com (and similar to others easily found on the web) has a variety of highly unflattering comments on PCRM:
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. PCRM is a fanatical animal rights group that seeks to remove eggs, milk, meat, and seafood from the American diet, and to eliminate the use of animals in scientific research. Despite its operational and financial ties to other animal activist groups and its close relationship with violent zealots, PCRM has successfully duped the media and much of the general public into believing that its pronouncements about the superiority of vegetarian-only diets represent the opinion of the medical community.
“Less than 5 percent of PCRM’s members are physicians,” Newsweek wrote in February 2004.
The American Medical Association (AMA), which actually represents the medical profession, has called PCRM a “fringe organization” that uses “unethical tactics” and is “interested in perverting medical science.”
Unfortunately, while their tactics parallel those of PETA's, they are not always wrong, especially when the milk industry hands them a club to beat itself over the head with.
Based on studies conducted by Michael Zemel of the University of Tennessee, the milk industry and big-name food companies started trumpeting in ads and press releases the notion that drinking milk can help people to lose weight. The PCRM is filing a suit against Kraft Foods Inc., General Mills Inc., the Dannon Co. Inc. and three dairy industry trade groups – including the National Dairy Council, which funded Zemel's work.
The PCRM has disputed this dairy weight-loss notion here:
Two recent studies, one at the University of Vermont and the other at Purdue University, found no significant difference in weight loss between people consuming a high-dairy diet and those consuming a low-dairy diet. In the June issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, a study of dairy consumption among 12,000 children concluded that the more milk children drank, the more weight they gained. The study’s lead author called the dairy industry’s claims “misleading.”
“The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence confirms that dairy products either cause weight gain or, at best, have no effect on weight whatsoever,” said Amy Lanou, Ph.D., PCRM senior nutrition scientist. “Since 1989 there have been 35 clinical trials that have explored the relationship between dairy products and/or calcium supplements and body weight. Thirty-one found no relation; two indicated that milk and other dairy products actually contributed to weight gain. Only the two studies led by Zemel have found that dairy contributes to both weight and fat loss when individuals are also restricting calories to lose weight,” said Lanou.
The defendants plan to vigorously combat the suit, according to their press releases. Policy by press release. I love it.
However, my bottom line is that while studies are ongoing, the evidence that drinking milk leads to weight loss is thin indeed.
But. Let me make that stronger. BUT. There are many studies that do show that milk is good for you in many different ways. There are also studies that show that milk may be a contributor to a number of diseases or health problems.
Drinking milk is a decision, one best made by you in full knowledge of your own diet, nutrition, and health. If you want to avoid it, by all means do so. You do not need dairy products for a healthy lifestyle. But you can also have a perfectly healthy lifestyle with dairy products included. Beware of any group that tries to tell you something different.