Making milk easier to swallow

April 17, 2012

If milk campaigns also educated about lactose intolerance, that would be a big service to many affected population groups.

Between 50% and 80% of the nation’s Hispanics are lactose-intolerant, states the National Institutes of Health. Despite this high percentage, the Milk Processor Education Program uses popular actress Salma Hayek as the centerpiece of a campaign promoting the beverage.

Did the agency, Deutsch, New York, think this wasn’t a potential problem because other statistics indicate only about 10% of Hispanics self-report lactose-intolerance? Moreover, the creative team listed in an Adweek report didn’t include a Hispanic who could have represented Hispanic concerns about this dietary problem.

If the campaign does influence many Hispanics to buy more milk, The Lempert Report anticipates many could become ill as a result. If MilkPEP accompanied this campaign with educational support around lactose-intolerance to help people make smarter decisions about milk drinking, we would find it easier to swallow. They could teach people smart ways to keep milk in their diets through social media, for instance. 

We understand the campaign revolves around milk-drinking occasions—and that Hayek’s appeal extends across demographic groups—yet her image is so powerful within the Latino community that the extra dimension of messaging about lactose-intolerance would be a responsible add-on.

For the record, NIH said between 30 million and 50 million U.S. adults are lactose-intolerant, including approximately 95% of Asians, 60% to 80% of African-Americans and Ashkenazi Jews, and 80% to 100% of American Indians.