It’s been called “soda in drag.” Chocolate milk may soon be banned from schools, despite being high in calcium, protein and many essential vitamins. School authorities are concerned about added sugar, but others argue that flavored milk has redeeming health benefits that override the extra calories.
Child obesity has become a serious health issue in America, and school boards are doing all they can to teach school children better eating habits. By teaching kids how to read nutrition labels, removing soda machines from school campuses and providing healthier menus in the school cafeterias, various school systems are proving that they are willing to go the extra mile to reverse the tide of obesity among our children.
But is the nutritional value of a bottle of chocolate milk really equivalent to that of a can of coke? And does one cup of plain white milk really have significantly less sugar than one cup of flavored milk? Let’s compare:
- One 8-ounce serving of white milk has 14 grams of natural sugar(lactose).
- Fat-free chocolate milk has 20 grams of sugar, accounting for an extra 6 grams.
- Fat-free strawberry milk and an 8-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola each have 27 grams of sugar. But while the sugary strawberry milk at least has calcium and vitamins like vitamin B12, vitamin A and vitamin D, the Coca-Cola company can make no such claims about their soft drink.
- Also read: Vitamin B12 For Kids
You can lead a child to white milk, but you can’t make him drink it
Statistics say that chocolate milk account for over 70% of all milk consumed in school between classes. Kids are more likely to reach for a bottle of low-fat chocolate milk over a carton of plain whole cow’s milk. Both varieties are high in calcium, protein, phosphorus, riboflavin, potassium, niacin and vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin B12. Both are healthy for strong bones and teeth, preventing osteoporosis and refueling after physical activity. But while the plain milk has 6 fewer grams of sugar, the chocolate milk wins by popular vote. According to some nutritionists, the extra 6 grams of sugar aren’t very significant in a child’s healthy diet, providing that his other nutritional requirements are also being met. An adolescent who gets enough low-fat protein, healthy carbohydrates and high-fiber fruits and vegetables isn’t going to be much affected by an extra 6 grams of sugar in his calcium intake.
Previous attempts to ban flavored milk turned sour
School districts which are considering joining the chocolate milk ban bandwagon are Los Angeles Unified, Berkeley, and Washington. But their chances for success aren’t good, at least not if you look at previous attempts to remove flavored milk from public school facilities. According to the Milk Processors Education Program, milk consumption drops by 35% whenever school boards remove chocolate milk from the kids menu. Even the Florida Board of Education has apparently backtracked on their proposed ban on sugary flavored milk beverages.
Parents are still split on the issue. Many agree that plain cow’s milk is healthier than flavored milk, but concede that drinking a bottle of chocolate milk every day is still better than drinking no milk at all. Some point out that children can get calcium from other sources, such as broccoli. That may be true, and parents should encourage their children to eat vegetables at home that are rich in vitamin, in addition to protein sources of B12 and the like. But it’ll be a cold day you-know-where before a school kid chooses steamed broccoli at the cafeteria lunch counter over a cold bottle of chocolate milk.