The battle over milk, essential nutrition or dairy industry scam?

WATCH ABOVE: A new book by Toronto author Alissa Hamilton is criticizing the health benefits long associated with drinking milk. Global News takes a look at milk’s history as a diet staple and speaks with Hamilton about her book Got Milked?.

TORONTO — The Toronto author of a book criticizing the role milk plays in a healthy diet and the dairy industry at large is defending her claims that milk does more harm than good to the human body.

Milk and other dairy products are a cornerstone of many people’s diets; Canada’s Food Guide recommends between two and four servings a day depending on a person’s age.

A page promoting Got Milked? What You Don’t Know About Dairy, The Truth About Calcium, and Why You’ll Thrive Without Milk on the Harper Collins website states author Alissa Hamilton “breaks down the science to illustrate how the milk kick is making us sick — and what we can do about it.”

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Global News health reporter Crystal Goomansingh spoke with Hamilton about her claims and research methods.

Although Hamilton cites work by reputable doctors, Goomansingh found she didn’t bother to actually interview the medical professionals for her book.

Dr. Michael Dickinson told Global News he feels his work was taken out of context. Dickinson wrote an article for The Globe and Mail examining the health benefits, and potential risks, of milk consumption for children.

“I think what Alissa Hamilton and her book and her chapters where she referred to my article really kind of cherry picked the parts where I talk about the potential pitfalls of drinking too much milk, but really didn’t acknowledge the fact that a good chunk of the article talked about the potential nutritional benefits of having some dairy products in a diet,” said Dr. Dickinson.

LISTEN: Dr. Michael Dickinson speaks with Crystal Goomansingh over his work cited in Got Milked.

Below is an excerpt of Goomansingh’s interview with Hamilton.

Crystal Goomansingh: “Your title says ‘What you don’t know about dairy, the truth about calcium, and why you’ll thrive without milk.’ That’s a strong suggestion.”

Alissa Hamilton: “You don’t need to drink it. That is my fundamental message. It’s not essential. What you don’t know about dairy is that it’s not essential to health. What you don’t know about calcium is that the recommendations are not evidence based. And they are higher in North America than anywhere else in the world, And why you’ll thrive without it? Because you get so many, the foods that are highest in calcium are also high in so many other nutrients that we need, so you can thrive just like Olympians, like Carl Lewis.”

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WATCH: Crystal Goomansingh’s full interview with Alissa Hamilton

CG: “You bring up the fact you cite a lot of studies. One of the ones that I want to ask about is in chapter two, and it’s called Ironed out: Milk is making our young sick and tired. Now you say that there are stats and studies that prove milk is making our kids sick and tired?”

AH: “Well yes, pediatricians are saying the most common problem that they are seeing in their clinics is children who are anemic or iron deficient because they are drinking too much milk.”

CG: “Ok I am glad you bring this up because that is right in the book and is from Dr. Dickinson and it comes from a Globe and Mail article, which was an ask and expert article. And the quote that you have in the book is… ‘Drinking too much milk is the most common nutritional problem that I encounter in my clinic’… That’s what your book says and that’s the quote you use, but that is not the entire quote, in fact, it is the middle sentence of a paragraph. Why did you choose to highlight that one sentence?”

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AH: “Because it’s important, it’s important for parents to know that if they’re giving their, you go to USDA’s My Plate site or Health Canada’s website, and milk looks like a perfect food. And so it’s natural that a lot of pediatricians are finding that parents of their patients are giving their kids a lot of milk.”

CG: “Your highlighting that one sentence suggests that too much milk is making kids sick, but that’s not the context of this sentence.”

AH: “Too much milk yes, too much milk is making kids sick, and I…”

CG: “That is not the context of this.”

AH: “I disagree, that he is not accepting that fact.”

CG: “But that’s not what he is saying. He saying that if you give them too much milk and don’t give them solid foods, if you’re using milk as the single source of iron, yes it can cause problems, because there won’t be enough. To go further to that you cite a Dr. McGuire. I talked to him, did you talk to him?”

AH: “No.”

CG: “You did not interview him. Did you interview Dr. Dickinson?”

AH: “No.”

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