The Chocolate Milk Debate: Should it be Offered in Schools?

Angela Jenkins

| 3 min read

Serving chocolate milk in schools has been in debate for some time now. Does it contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic? Or would children’s nutrition be compromised by not drinking milk, flavored or not?

To Drink or Not to Drink: That is the Question

I have mixed feelings about this debate and I see both sides’ point of view.

To Drink

The facts are in from an article from the New York Times:
  • Milk is getting a makeover: 8 ounces of low-fat and fat-free varieties of chocolate milk served in schools will have 38 percent less added sugar than before and only 31 more calories than its white milk counterpart .
  • The made-over flavored milk will have around 130 calories and 22 grams of sugar per carton.
  • Milk consumption decreased by 35 percent when flavored milk was eliminated as an option, according to a study done by Milk Processor Education Program.
  • The average daily consumption when flavored milk was eliminated and only white milk was offered was 4 ounces per student.
  • When schools offered flavored milk, on average each student consumed 6 ounces.
Whether or not the new and improved low-fat chocolate and flavored milk has too many calories and sugar, the kids obviously seem to prefer the taste over white milk.
To me, the question on this end of the debate is whether it’s worth it to get rid of flavored milk over 22 grams of sugar considering that kids may not drink milk at all if it is eliminated. What essential nutrients would be compromised if kids don’t drink any milk?

Not to Drink

Again, facts from the article in NY Times:
Jamie Oliver has had a great influence in stating that chocolate milk is not a healthy option for school-age kids. His reasons for this are:
  • One serving of flavored milk has 4 teaspoons of added sugar per serving.
  • When kids drink flavored milk on a daily basis, they are consuming an extra 2 gallons of sugar each year.
  • 96 percent of school districts offer flavored milk as an option.
  • Only 2 percent of these schools offer fat-free milk as an option.
My thoughts on this are that consuming sugar, like all things, should be done in moderation. So if chocolate milk is one of the only foods and drinks that kids have on a daily basis, then is that too much sugar? I think that decision is an individual one for each child and family.

Benefits of Milk

If you are undecided about whether or not flavored milk should be served in schools, the following are some overall benefits of milk — flavored or not:
  • Milk is the No. 1 source of calcium, which is critical for bone and teeth development.
  • Milk is fortified with Vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption.
  • Milk contains other vital nutrients, like protein, phosphorus, vitamin A and some vitamin B.
What are your thoughts on the great milk debate? Should schools offer flavored milk or not?
Resource: Parenting Magazine Photo credit: teejayhanton

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