Ads saying dairy products help you lose weight are misleading

There have been recent claims that dairy products can help people lose weight, and the dairy industry has hyped the assertion by investing millions of dollars in commercial advertising. However, a new review of the evidence published in the journal Nutrition Reviews reveals that neither dairy nor calcium intake promotes weight loss.

Amy Joy Lanou of the University of North Carolina at Asheville and Neal Barnard with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, DC, evaluated evidence from 49 clinical trials from 1966 to 2007 that assessed the effect of milk, dairy products, or calcium intake on body weight and BMI, with or without the use of dieting.

Evidence from the trials showed that neither dairy products nor calcium supplements helped people lose weight. Of the 49 clinical trials, 41 showed no effect, two demonstrated weight gain, one showed a lower rate of weight gain, and only five showed weight loss.

An association between calcium or dairy intake and weight loss seen in some observational studies may be attributable to other factors, such as exercise, decreased soda intake, lifestyle habits, or increased fiber, fruit, and vegetable intake.

"Our findings demonstrate that increasing dairy product intake does not consistently result in weight or fat loss and may actually have the opposite effect," the authors conclude.

This study is published in the May 2008 issue of Nutrition Reviews.

To view the abstract for this article, please click here.

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