The New York Times recently ran an article that discusses arguments for and against the removal of flavored milk from schools.
With the amount of added sugar in the standard 8 fl oz serving of chocolate milk offered in schools, kids are getting more of a treat than a healthy beverage with their lunch on a daily basis. The added sweeteners in flavored milk can cause it to contain twice as much sugar as plain low-fat milk! Milk contains calcium, protein, and vitamin D, which support normal body functions such as locomotion and brain performance, and are essential for growing kids. However, cane sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are not. Milk is naturally sweet from lactose and does not require the added sugar that flavored milk contains.
High sugar consumption is a serious matter. In the long run, it can lead to weight gain and obesity and can disrupt absorption of required nutrients by the body, leading to numerous health effects. In the short term, high sugar consumption can lead to fatigue and migraines which can interrupt learning at school.
Currently, 71% of milk served in schools nationwide is flavored; the majority of it being chocolate. However, its unnecessarily high sugar content has lead some schools to remove it as an option in their cafeterias. This year, schools in Berkley, California are only serving plain milk and school officials in Florida are also considering the ban.
Milk consumption is falling though and is being replaced by sugary drinks such as soda. Recent studies show that on average, milk consumption in elementary schools decreases by 35% once flavored milk is removed from cafeterias. This, coupled with research confirming that nearly three-quarters of teenagers and adults are deficient in the essential nutrients contained in milk forces some to question if flavoring milk is necessary in order to get the kids to drink it and get those nutrients. Is it better for kids to drink milk with added sugar than to not drink milk at all?
Ann Cooper, who runs a national Web site, chefann.com, aimed at reforming school lunch, and advocates for feeding kids healthier food, puts it succinctly in the article when she says… “Saying we need to add sugar and flavoring to milk to get kids to drink it is like saying we need to feed kids apple pie if they don’t like apples.”
Chocolate milk in moderation is all right for kids, but we shouldn’t be teaching them that it is a healthy choice for their daily diet.
We should not make food unhealthy just to get kids to eat it. This seems to defeat the initial purpose of consuming the once healthy beverage. If kids do not like plain milk, there are other ways for them to get their calcium while avoiding unnecessary amounts of sugar. Green leafy vegetables or grains are great options that are even more calcium-rich than milk.Let us know what you think… Is it better to drink milk with added sugar than no milk at all? Or are schools heading in the right direction by removing flavored milk?