Dairy: Fattening, Sickening and Generally to Be Avoided?

Sometimes you have to speak out against what’s wrong. I did so today.

In your recipes use soy milk instead of dairy for health. To lose weight, cut back on both and use water instead.

Use soy milk instead of milk for health. To lose weight, cut back on both and use water instead. Photo: Kiki Tohmé, Flickr.

I started Weight Winning to give you a trustworthy, science-based source of information on weight loss. And one that is fun to read.

You would think that by now I would no longer be shocked or angry when someone in a place of authority misleads us about how to lose weight and be healthy. Sometimes they do it for their own benefit, as in Coke’s new obesity video. Sometimes they do it because they just don’t know better.

I’m sure I’d be a happier, calmer person if I didn’t let these things bother me. But I can’t let them go. They contribute to the unhappiness, illness and death of millions of people. If you get only bad advice about what to eat, you will have trouble being slim and healthy.

I try to channel my energy into making things better, however, instead of just letting it keep me up at night, gnashing my teeth. Although I do that, too.

Here’s a great example. Aseem Malhotra is a British cardiologist and a columnist for the Guardian. He blogged that switching to foods labeled as “low fat” is no way to lose weight or improve your health. That’s because processed low-fat foods like low-fat yogurt often have sugar added to make them tastier.

That’s true. I might add that the best thing to do is to avoid foods with cholesterol and saturated fat (that means meat and dairy) and their low-fat fake substitutes altogether. But Aseem’s argument takes an incomprehensible turn and he ends up recommending dairy. Dairy is a high calorie food that gets 40% of its calories from fat. It has also been implicated in cancer. If it’s calcium you’re worried about, there are better ways to get it.

Below is my response to Aseem. Read more at the Guardian.


Aseem, thanks for pointing out the evils of sugar and unhealthy, processed “low fat” foods.

But, surely it’s possible to do that without proposing people eat that other sickening food, dairy. I agree with the thrust of your message, but worry you are encouraging people to eat something unhealthy. Some people still believe what they read online.

Let’s not ignore the mountains of research that shows that dairy is more poison than health potion. Even if you call the research inconclusive, which is the least one can do, it is surely irresponsible to recommend dairy until the issue is settled.

This article claimed dairy is a good source of certain vitamins and calcium, even though the research shows that dairy actually may be linked to the leaching of calcium from one’s bones, aggravate rheumatoid arthritis, colic, acne, heart disease, asthma, lymphoma, ovarian cancer and multiple sclerosis.

About cancer, I quote another article is this very paper: ‘Major studies suggesting a link between milk and prostate cancer have been appearing since the 1970s, culminating in findings by the Harvard School of Public Health in 2000 that men who consumed two and a half servings of dairy products a day had a third greater risk of getting prostate cancer than those who ate less than half a serving a day. In the same year, T Colin Campbell, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, said that “cows’ milk protein may be the single most significant chemical carcinogen to which humans are exposed”.’

Here’s the link:

You also linked to a paper claiming saturated fat protects against heart disease. Yet, you didn’t link to the paper in the very same issue of the very same journal that pointed out 12 (yes 12!) major flaws with your study. Here it is in case you missed it. It’s even free to read: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/91/3/497.long

Finally, you mentioned the sad story of the guy who gained weight eating low fat foods to lower his cholesterol. The culprit is his dietician who told him to eat “low fat” instead of to eat “healthy”. The only real source of cholesterol in our diets is meat and dairy. If he just ate whole foods, mostly plants, he would have both lost weight and cut his cholesterol. He would also have reduced his risk of cancer and heart disease.

The promotion of the supposed health benefits of dairy is exactly the sort of industry PR campaign you so often come out against. In the future, please edit yourself before claiming as true something that is controversial or in fact incorrect.

You risk undermining the very real and important positive impact you are otherwise having through your writing.

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