Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Is it "Let's Move" or let's eat?

Dairy is a heavily debated and controversial issue in nutritional science. Michelle Obama is pushing cow’s milk like it’s going to single handedly conquer obesity. We are the only specie that drinks milk past infancy. While some scientists have linked milk to weight loss and health, one of the lead scientists was publicly reprimanded by the International Journal of Obesity for publishing these studies without stating his bias; he was funded and patented by The Dairy Council of America.1,2 Many legitimate scientists found milk may possibly link to calcium loss or neutral effects.3 Growth hormones (rBGH) and antibiotics don’t do a body good, either.

This post is about the food industry’s hand in this campaign. The Dairy Council of America helps define the USDA. The United States Department of Agriculture was created for agriculture. This campaign intertwines closely with the USDA. It is going to try (unsuccessfully) to revamp their very flawed food pyramid. The food pyramid will always be flawed due to the American Meat Institute and The Dairy Council of America’s lobbyists crying to the USDA at every suggestion of smaller meat and dairy portions in former food pyramids.4

If you don’t like milk, don’t drink it. There is no scientific proof that you will suffer without it or benefit from it. If you can’t tolerate milk, you don’t need Lactaid. It’s just another product profiting off of an ailment that many people suffer from.5 This campaign is supposed to send the message of eating less, eating healthier, and moving more. I worry that its involvement with the USDA will impinge upon that message. The Dairy Council of America is claiming to fight obesity. How? With their deplorable Raise Your Hand for Chocolate Milk campaign. It’s okay to remove soda from schools, but not chocolate milk? If children do not like regular milk, they can drink water.

In my pediatric nutrition class, the Raise Your Hand for Chocolate Milk campaign caused an intense debate. Some students in the class promote giving chocolate milk to children to “trick” them into drinking milk. I was shocked. Milk is not the only source of calcium. Most of the world is lactose intolerant, yet they have fewer rates of osteoporosis than the dairy gulping Westerners.

Despite these expected grievances, I am still thrilled about the attention that has been given to childhood obesity by the campaign. You may think it has been a well-known issue for quite a while now, but only in certain groups. This campaign makes it more widely known. I also applaud the initiative to remove the junk food from the school vending machines. This campaign is being heavily debated and addressed in my program. Naturally, I love the controversy. Most of the feedback is negative. My opinion is that it might not work and it definitely won’t solve the issue. But it won’t hurt. However, I do hope the First Lady remembers: Let’s Move! The last administration reduced my niece's physical education program. Reinstate daily physical education and emphasize the importance of exercise and eating healthy.

See you on the soccer field.

  1. Schardt, David. Milking the Data [Action News Letter]. Center for Science in the Public Interest. (2005) 11.
  2. Kalman, DS., Calcium and weight loss: letter to Editor. (2005). International Journal of Obesity. 29, 1302-93.
  3. Lanou, AJ., Berkow, ES., Bernard, DN. Calcium, dairy products, and bone health in children and young adults: a reevaluation of the evidence. (2005). The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 115, 736-743.
  4. Draft U.S. dietary guidelines hit by National Dairy Council. Food Regulation Weekly March 20, 2000:10-11. National Dairy Council commends new dietary guidelines (press release). Rosemont, IL: National Dairy Council, May 30, 2000.
  5. Ty, MJ. The Myth of lactose intolerance. (1997) Nutrition Bytes. 3 (1).

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