Studies published about six years ago showed that people who consumed the most dairy products were 80 percent less likely to be obese and have a lower body mass index (Int J Obesity, 29: 115-121, 2004). The dairy industry couldn’t buy publicity like this, so they organized a major advertising campaign to exploit the research. After careful analysis of the data, scientists found no evidence that calcium supplements or high intake of dairy foods promotes weight loss, so the FDA ordered the dairy industry to stop their ad campaign.
The controversy isn’t dead. Scientists from Israel, Germany, and Harvard found that higher dairy calcium intake and increased blood levels of vitamin D were related to weight loss during a two-year study. People with the highest intake of calcium and the highest blood levels of vitamin D were 48 percent more likely to lose 10 pounds or more during the study. This was a large, well-controlled study, so there might be something to the theory that dairy calcium and vitamin D in the diet are important for weight control. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 92: 1017-1022)