Milk: It (Still) Does a Body Good

With its ideological ties to the radical animal rights movement and ne’er-do-well status among the medical mainstream, the PETA-affiliated Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has repeatedly embarrassed itself publicly with its unsurprisingly science-lite “public health” campaigns. The group’s anti-milk crusade stands out as a particularly offensive example of this trend. And, as reported in today’s Wall Street Journal, yet another well-regarded medical charity has released dietary advice about dairy that directly contradicts the spook stories and hyperbole propagated by PCRM’s activists-cum-nutritionists.

According to new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “children who are lactose-intolerant should consume some dairy products to ensure that they get enough calcium and vitamin D.” As a member of the AAP’s committee on nutrition, Melvin Heymann, told the WSJ, “It’s OK to take some dairy if you’re intolerant. Most people do tolerate some degree of lactose-containing products.” Winston Price, a co-author of a report commissioned by the National Medical Association on dairy in the diet of African-Americans, hopes that the AAP recommendations will encourage parents of intolerant children not to unnecessarily “turn away from dairy.”

Contrast that with PCRM’s stance on milk in children’s diets. Neal Barnard, PCRM’s founder and president, has written that feeding kids milk is a “form of child abuse.” Its annual school-nutrition report cards mark down cafeterias that offer dairy products. And just this year, the group unsuccessfully sued Washington, DC supermarkets in an attempt to mandate lactose-intolerance warnings everywhere milk is sold.

But as the AAP recommendations make clear:

Staying away from dairy, which is the richest source of calcium in a traditional Western diet, could be having long-term effects on U.S. children’s health. Most older children and teenagers fail to meet their daily calcium requirements, according to a previous AAP study. Calcium intake in childhood and adolescence helps to build bone mass and is thought to protect against osteoporosis. Inadequate calcium is linked with a higher risk of developing high blood pressure and other problems.

It’s clear that PCRM is misguided about dairy and always has been. Their track record on this issue should call into question their advice on beef, chicken, bacon, or any other non-vegan-friendly food they decide to talk about.

Don’t expect findings like these to stand in the way of PCRM’s anti-dairy propaganda. Its members are part of a movement that sees no moral distinction between human beings and cows, pigs, and sheep. A campaign that jeopardizes children’s health for the sake of a few cows is the practical extension of its philosophy.

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