Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board accused of making illegally deceptive claims

Wisconsin Milk Marketing
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A two-part investigation (1 & 2) released last week by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism revealed that the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board was making claims that may violate state laws prohibiting agricultural marketing boards from false advertising. The Milk Board spends nearly a million dollars a year marketing dairy to Wisconsin school children–for example telling parents “Muscles fueled with chocolate milk are muscles fueled with nutritious energy…” in a state in which more than a quarter of its kids are overweight or obese.

In 2003, the dairy industry launched a multimillion dollar campaign to convince Americans that eating dairy products could help with weight loss. In response, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed a 2005 petition with the Federal Trade Commission to stop the milk industry from making such false and misleading claims. As a result, national milk boards retracted the claims and ended the ad campaign in 2007. Four years later, though, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board was still at it, making what experts have called “ridiculously misleading” claims that have been “totally discredited by research not funded by the National Dairy Council.”

The only studies to suggest a link between dairy consumption and weight loss were evidently performed by a researcher who received millions of dollars from the National Dairy Council. Today’s NutritionFacts.org video-of-the-day Food Industry Funding Effect profiles an analysis of more than 200 studies to see just how biased industry-sponsored studies are. In their paper “Relationship Between Funding Source and Conclusion Among Nutrition-Related Scientific Articles,” researchers at Children’s Hospital in Boston and the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that studies sponsored by the soda and dairy industries may be even more influenced by funding source than drug studies funded by the pharmaceutical industry.

Today’s video is the third in a three-week series, inspired by the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street movement, documenting corporate influence in the formation of dietary guidelines. Thursday’s video-of-the-day, Corporate Guidance, highlighted some of the more amusing comments submitted to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee by sugar, meat, and candy industry interests. On Friday, coinciding with the release of a CDC report showing 9 out of 10 Americans exceed recommended sodium limits, my video With a grain of Big Salt documented the National Dairy Council’s alliance with the Salt institute to downplay the risks of sodium, which contributes to the deaths of 92,000 Americans every year.

-Michael Greger, M.D.

Image credit: jepoirrier / Flickr

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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please leave any questions you may have below and be sure to check out my regular ‘Ask the Doctor’ feature! Find the most recent one here. Also, don’t forget to peruse my other blog posts that discuss dairy.

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