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Why BBC’s latest “Health” article is actually dangerous

We’re disappointed with BBC for giving “nutrition advice” that’s not based in facts or evidence. Shameful.


Today, the BBC published an online article titled, “Dairy-free diets warning over risk to bone health.” Despite my immediate shock at the article title, I read on, curious as to what the BBC would say on the subject. The content, alas, was as expected—quite disappointing. Allow me to explain why many from the vegan/plant-based/nutrition communities are probably quite upset about this article.

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Essentially, the major source of aggravation is that the overall takeaway is a critical error that could lead to significant harmful health-related decisions. Not only does the article rely on information provided by representatives from an apparently dairy-lobbying charity, but it also instructs parents on how to relay that very inaccurate message to their children! This misinformed position which suggests dairy is needed for bone health is clearly refuted by the scientific community. Consuming dairy (and many animal products, for that matter), actually is proven to CONTRIBUTE to diseases like osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer, etc. And here, the BBC is mocking the decisions of many to rid animal products for health or ethical reasons (suggesting it’s a “fad” in their words) by claiming the dairy-ditchers are the unhealthy ones. For an article in the health section, I find this shameful.

For a news source I tend to trust and rely upon, I find this article disappointing to say the least. First, let’s clear something up: the main source of information cited is clearly driven by particular motives.Rather than listening to the National Osteoporosis Society, why not read The China Study, or consult with the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine—actually, just consult probably any scientist who isn’t employed by a group that lobbies for dairy to tell you. The suggestion that people need dairy for calcium and that dropping dairy is anything but a smart health move is decades behind actual science and medicine.

And another thing: going vegan is not just “following eating fads.” It’s a lifestyle change that’s motivated when we consciously acknowledge our relationship with the environment and the animals with which we share this planet.

I’m also alarmed that the article is encouraging parents to relay the message to their children.

What should we be telling our children instead? Dairy products are scientifically proven to inhibit our bodies’ ability to absorb calcium and actually leads to calcium LOSS!!! This explains why countries which follow the standard “western diet” (i.e., one that’s filled with dairy) see higher rates of osteoporosis while diets with limited dairy (e.g., traditional Chinese diets) see almost no cases of osteoporosis. On top of this calcium-myth, dairy is a large contributor to diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

So we should instead be telling our children to limit or entirely remove dairy from their diets. At the very least, we shouldn’t be insisting that a dairy-free life is an issue. It’s a calcium-free life that’s a problem. There are two little sentences at the end which get at this, but that’s a lot of good after an entire article suggesting dairy is critical.

Shame on BBC News for relaying misinformation to consumers when scientific studies say the opposite. My level of trust in BBC’s ability to report on factual narratives has fallen.

For actual science and facts related to dairy and your health, here are a few resources I’d recommend looking into:

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