|By Robert Cohen Executive Director|
Glen Merzer, co-author of Howard Lyman's best seller, Mad Cowboy wrote a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and it was published! I have analyzed and written about many flawed dairy studies, often as a result of the dairy industry's pre-publication (insider) hype. That was the case on April 25th when I first wrote a column revealing a significant flaw in what I called a phony study. JAMA is supposed to be a peer-review journal. I wrote: "Perhaps Elsie the Cow did the peer-reviewing?" On page 2059 of the same issue in which the study appeared (April 24th, 2002) issue, JAMA lists their key objectives, two of which were: "The Journal has a social responsibility to improve the total human condition and to promote the integrity of science." "To report American Medical Association policy, as appropriate, while maintaining editorial independence, objectivity, and responsibility." The severely flawed study was partially funded by General Mills, who owns Haagen Dazs, Yoplait Yogurt, Wheaties, and Cheerios. The study was so flawed that it is laughable. When I read the author's words on page 2082, I wanted to cry: "We identified dairy products as any items reported during the diet history interview that were either 100% dairy (eg, milk) or included dairy as one of the main ingredients (eg, dips made with sour cream). We did not include mixed dishes." I spoke to the senior author of the JAMA study, Mark Pereira. One of the things Dr. Pereira told me: "Our research is incomplete, and we are not suggesting changes in the dietary guidelines." I was astounded. When I spoke Pereira), I asked: "You did not include pizza?" He responded: "No." "Macaroni and cheese?" "No." "Milk and cereal? "No. The grains would have compromised the glycemic index." I told Pereira that, in 1970, the average American ate ten pounds of cheese, and that last year, the average American ate 31 pounds. It takes ten pounds of milk to produce one pound of hard cheese. "Cheeseburgers?" "No." "Chicken parmagiana?" "No." "Cakes, cream cheese on bagels, milkshakes, cream sauce, cheese sauce, milk chocolate?" He said "no" to all. I asked my readers to become active. Write letters. Glen Merzer accepted my challenge and soared right to the source. His letter as published by JAMA: "Dairy Products and Insulin Resistance To the Editor: In their categorizations of dairy products, Dr Pereira and colleagues excluded foods for which the "contribution of dairy to the weight or caloric content of the item was unclear or likely to be minimal." Such "mixed dishes" included pizza and cheeseburgers. Thus, for example, a study participant could have eaten 3 double- cheese pizzas in a day, but his daily intake would not have been counted as a dairy day if he did not drink milk. Pereira et al also note that milk intake has decreased significantly over the last 3 decades and imply that this is related to increased rates of obesity and diabetes. They ignore the vast increase in the consumption of cheese and other dairy products during those 3 decades. A more accurate study of the impact of dairy consumption might compare incidence of insulin resistance syndrome between 2 populations: those who consume dairy (in all its forms) and those who consume none. Glen Merzer, MA Woodland Hills, Calif." Bravo, Glen, and thank you, JAMA, for publishing Glen's letter and setting the lobsided record just a little bit straighter.
Robert Cohen, author of: MILK A-Z
Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dairy Education Board
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