The Milk Development Council (MDC) and Dairy UK is endangering children’s health, claims Viva Health, a national health charity. It reports that the latest marketing ploy, of promoting cow’s milk in schools, ignores an increasing body of scientific evidence linking cow’s milk to a wide range of diseases, including teenage acne, allergies, type I diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease and certain cancers.
School Milk Week 2005 commencing October 10 will act as a focal point for further promotional activities. The MDC and Dairy UK are currently using EU money to target schools with a programme ostensibly promoting physical and mental wellbeing through exercise but this is not its real aim, says Dr Justine Butler of Viva Health: “It is a thinly-veiled marketing ploy aimed at generating new customers. Such methods have been used before in schools by burger-selling multinationals to peddle their wares. It should not be the role of a public body to enter into a commercial promotion at the expense of children’s heath. It helps to perpetuate the myth that milk is wholesome and healthy when it is neither.”
Earlier this year, a review of 58 studies on milk published in the journal Pediatrics came to the conclusion that there is little evidence to support encouraging adolescents to drink more milk (Lanou et al, 2005). It has been linked to a wide range of health problems and is the single biggest cause of allergies such as eczema and asthma in children in the UK. Allergic reactions to milk can also produce (occult) intestinal bleeding that is the main cause of iron deficiency anaemia in children. Early exposure to cow’s milk has been linked to type I diabetes. Dairy products also contribute significant amounts of cholesterol, animal protein and fat to the diet, increasing the risk of heart and other degenerative diseases, which are at epidemic proportions in the West. Significantly, 70 per cent of the world’s population cannot digest milk.
“Milk continues to be promoted as a health food, particularly for strong bones“, continues Dr Butler, “seemingly without anyone checking the science. Americans are among the biggest consumers of milk in the world yet suffer one of highest levels of osteoporosis. Milk can actually promote osteoporosis and physical exercise is the most important factor in preventing it. Now that the Government has finally got around to banning some junk foods from schools, we would urge them to include milk in the list.” The glossy, 60-page ring-bound folder will soon be delivered to UK schools. While it claims that milk is a good source of calcium it makes no mention that green leafy vegetables are a much better source.