WASHINGTON — An ad campaign that suggested milk can help people lose weight is ending, the Federal Trade Commission told a doctors’ group that had complained.
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The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine contended the weight loss claims were false and misleading. The group, in a 2005 petition, asked the commission to order a halt to the dairy advertisements.
The agency did not take that step, but said in a letter to the committee that the groups behind the ads planned to end them.
“It is obvious that the industry did not have a leg to stand on,” Neal Barnard, president of the Washington-based doctors committee, said Thursday. His group advocates a vegan diet, which typically includes no animal products.
The two marketing campaigns at issue involve the “Milk your diet. Lose Weight!” ads on television, Internet and in magazines, and the “3-A-Day. Burn More Fat, Lose Weight” ads, which are now mostly Web-based.
The FTC, in a letter May 3 to the committee, said the agency met with Agriculture Department officials and representatives for the two campaigns, which decided “to discontinue all advertising and other marketing activities involving weight loss claims until further research provides stronger, more conclusive evidence.”
Susan Ruland, a spokeswoman for the “Milk your Diet” campaign, said there was nothing misleading about the ads.
“We absolutely stand behind our weight loss campaign and the science supporting our messages,” said Ruland, who represents the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board. “There’s a strong body of scientific evidence that demonstrates a connection between dairy and weight loss.”
Still, she said, the board plans to phase out the milk ads and focus the campaign instead on how dairy can help promote a healthy diet.
The National Dairy Promotion and Research Board said it has already changed its “3-A-Day” campaign.
The Agriculture Department, which has oversight of the two boards, had approved the ads. A spokesman said the agency supports the decision to pull back from the campaigns.
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