WASHINGTON - The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) claims that the dairy industry has used "false and misleading" advertising in its multimillion-dollar "Healthy Weight With Dairy" campaign, and petitioned the Federal Trade Commission, asking it to put an immediate stop to a related series of advertisements.
"Scientific studies show that milk either causes weight gain or else has no effect at all on weight or body fat," said Amy Joy Lanou, senior nutrition scientist of PCRM.
The 30-page complaint asks that the industry be forced to run "corrective advertising."
PCRM is a pro-vegetarian group with a history of questioning the value of dairy products. Industry groups are quick to point out the the group also has a connection to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
PCRM says the industry's weight-loss campaign is based solely on two small studies conducted by Michael Zemel, Ph.D., at the University of Tennessee and that the funding came from industry sources.
But Greg Miller, sr. v.p. with the National Dairy Council, says there's more to the claims than just the Zemel study.
"More than two dozen studies published in leading journals suggest that milk, cheese and yogurt may help in weight-loss efforts when coupled with a reduced-calorie diet," Miller says.
The complaint lists as parties several dairy processors who have obtained license to use the weight loss claims in their own brand-specific marketing.