Should chocolate milk be allowed in schools? Should you give your children chocolate milk?
These are two questions I have been asked about a lot lately! I believe this topic is not so brown and white! There are many sides to this decision and we can review them now.
Let’s begin with the original…white milk.
1) White milk has nine essential nutrients including: calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D, and B12, riboflavin and niacin. Milk provides three of the five “nutrients of concern” mentioned by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are calcium, potassium and magnesium.
2) It is important that children be taught at home that drinks don’t need to be sweet to taste good. Just look at water…it is the most important beverage out there and has no taste to it!
3) Real milk is white.
4) Even if schools get rid of chocolate milk, serving kids chocolate milk at home will send a mixed message.
Should chocolate and other flavored milks mooooove over?
1) Chocolate milk still has the same nine essential nutrients as white milk.
2) It has been said that if chocolate milk is removed from schools children will start to drink white milk. However, current research has not proven otherwise. Research by Seidel M Patterson , showed that milk consumption actually decreased when flavored milk was removed from seven school districts. The results showed 62-63% reduction in milk consumption by kids in kindergarten-5th grade, a 50% reduction by adolescents in 6th-8th grade, and a 37% by adolescents in 9th-12th grade. In fact, another study conducted by Frary et. al. showed that the consumption of sweetened dairy products was positively associated with calcium intakes for children and adolescents.
3) I saw a post a while back, by Dina R. Rose, whom has a PhD in sociology, titled The (Chocolate) Milk Mistake. Her point of view is that we should base our decision on behavior and not nutrition, but I believe healthy eating is a combination of both aspects . On her post she stated that, “If you give your kids chocolate milk to get them to drink milk you would be better off giving them a glass of plain milk and a Dunkin’ Donuts Chocolate Frosted Donut.” It does make sense, to differentiate between treats and healthy foods that should be consumed daily. However, chocolate milk doesn’t have to be as sugar-filled as a donut. You could easily make a lower-calorie and lower-sugar chocolate milk using low-fat or fat-free milk and combining it with a teaspoon each of sugar and cocoa powder, light chocolate syrup, or sugar-free chocolate syrup.
4) Why are we picking on chocolate milk? I think it would be more beneficial to remove the ala-carte line from schools, get rid of vending machine junk food and pop, or promote more vegetables at lunch!
So what is the take home message?
If you don’t offer your child chocolate milk at home and teach them to enjoy white milk, they may choose white milk at school based on their experiences. Setting a good example at home, is going to help instill positive behaviors in your child and help them learn how to eat/drink healthy. You can complain about chocolate milk in schools until the cows come home (pun intended), but children learn most of their healthy behaviors at home, not in school. Chocolate milk like everything else can be healthy in moderation!
Please post your thoughts on this debate!
Frary CD, Johnson RK, Wang MQ. Children and adolescents’ choices of foods and beverages high in added sugars are associated with intakes of key nutrients and food groups. J Adolesc Health 2004; 34(1):56-63.
Patterson J, Saidel M. The Removal of Flavored Milk in Schools Results in a Reduction in Total Milk Purchases in All Grades, K-12. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009; 109,(9): A97.
United States Dept. of Health and Human Services. United States Dept. of Agriculture and United States Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. (6th ed. HHS publications, 2005, Washington D.C.)
Photo courtesy of Papercake Makes.