Dairy groups collaborate to rebut new study

ROSEMONT, IL: The National Dairy Council and its partners are scrambling to cast doubt on a new study contradicting years of research touting the health benefits of milk.

ROSEMONT, IL: The National Dairy Council and its partners are scrambling to cast doubt on a new study contradicting years of research touting the health benefits of milk.

Weber Shandwick has been the primary provider of media relations and message support for the Dairy Council, which is also in constant communication with its AOR, Edelman, according to Mollie Waller, the Council's VP of nutrition and health promotion.

In addition, the Dairy Council has coordinated its outreach effort with the International Dairy Food Association and the National Milk Producers Federation.

"All of us are using a core consistent message that is grounded in science," Waller said.

The controversial study, published last Monday in the peer-reviewed medical journal Pediatrics, analyzed 58 previous studies to conclude that milk and other dairy products were not the key to building strong bones in children. It instead linked bone health to exercise and non-dairy calcium sources.

On its website, the Dairy Council has stressed that the study, which was authored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), is an "opinion piece" by an "animal rights organization that has only a 5% physician membership."

"Constant communication and science-based communication is really the foundation of our outreach," Waller said.

The PCRM, meanwhile, has promoted the study with a news conference, interviews with its authors, and b-roll of children engaged in some of the activities that might increase bone health.

It has stressed the message that there is little evidence that milk is the "preferred source of calcium," and that at least some of the studies suggesting otherwise have been funded by the dairy industry.

Waller noted that the media deferred to independent, third-party sources to cover the story. "It's wonderful when ... we see such support from the community and dieticians," she said.

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