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Wednesday, December 07th, 2011 | Author:

By Jane Q. Vergnani, RD, LDN, New England Dairy & Food Council

 

If you’ve been watching the news lately, you’ve probably heard a lot of discussion about taking flavored milk out of schools. This widely debated topic has created quite the buzz, and it has probably led to some confusion in your community! Well, it’s time to set the facts straight about flavored milk using sound science rather than fear or emotion. Let’s shed some light on the subject…

 

Myth #1: Flavored milk isn’t as nutritious as white milk.

Milk – whether white or flavored – plays a vital role in helping Americans, especially children, meet their needs for important nutrients. In fact, flavored milk offers the same nine essential nutrients as white milk, including three of the four “nutrients of concern” that kids are not getting enough of – vitamin D, calcium and potassium!  The American Dietetic Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and other leading health organizations agree that flavored milk plays a valuable role in keeping children happy and healthy (1).

 

Myth #2: Flavored milk, like soft drinks, contains a lot of added sugar.

Research shows that flavored milk contributes just 3% of added sugars to kids’ diets as opposed to sodas and fruit drinks which contribute close to half and provide little to no nutritive value (2). Plus, not all the sugar you see on the labels of flavored milk is “added sugar.” A portion of the total grams of sugar actually comes from naturally-occurring lactose. Plus, dairy companies and schools have worked together to reduce the amount of added sugar in flavored milk by 38% in the last five years (3)!

 

Myth #3: When flavored milk is removed from schools, kids will drink white milk. If consumption dips, it will eventually rebound.

A recent study showed that eliminating flavored milk from schools resulted in a dramatic 35% drop in overall milk consumption, which means many children will miss out on essential nutrients that milk provides. During the second year of that same study, students did not move toward white milk, and overall milk consumption did not rebound (3).  Without a glass of milk at lunch-time, it’s almost impossible for kids to meet their needs for the important vitamins and minerals that milk provides.

 

Myth #4: Flavored milk is contributing to the obesity crisis among America’s children.

Actually, the opposite is true! Flavored milk provides children with good nutrition, and leading health organizations agree that flavored milk is a positive trade-off for soft drinks, which are the primary source of added sugar in children’s diets. In fact, 95% of all 8-ouce servings of chocolate milk served in schools have 150 calories or less, and studies show that children who drink flavored milk do not have a higher body mass index (BMI) than those who don’t (4).

 

Myth #5: Most parents want schools to ban flavored milk.

Despite some of the high-profile debates over flavored milk, a recent study of 1,000 moms found that more than half would be opposed to a decision made by their children’s school to stop offering flavored milk. In fact, 80% of moms do not support the removal of chocolate milk from the lunch lines and school cafeterias (5).  Most moms agree that kids need healthy choices at school, including chocolate milk.

 

There you have it! The bottom line is that the best milk for kids is the one they’ll drink, because the essential nutrients found in milk are much too important to miss!

 

Call to Action! Looking for more information about flavored milk? Visit www.newenglanddairycouncil.org and check out all the great resources on flavored milk offered there.

 

 

 

 

 

References:

1. National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, Committee on Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools. V.A. Stallings and A.L. Yaktine (Eds) Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools: Leading the Way Toward Healthier Youth. Washington., D.C.: National Academies Press, 2007.

 

2. NHANES. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. 2003-2006

 

3. MilkPEP School Channel Survey conducted by Prime Consulting Group. Projected School Milk Product Profile. 2011-2012

 

4. Murphy MM, Douglass JS, Johnson RK, Spence LA. Drinking flavored or plain milk is positively associated with nutrient intake and is not associated with adverse effects on weight status in U.S. children and adolescents. J Am Diet Assoc 2008;108:631-639.

 

5. KRC Research. Moms weight in on the Great Debate. July 2011

 

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