What a great idea! Cut the chocolate milk. give the kids a chance to develop healthy habits… I like it!
The USDA requires that schools offer milk with breakfast and lunch. Given a choice, kids prefer chocolate milk over plain. Estimates indicate that between 60 and 70 percent of the milk consumed in the school meals program is flavored.
Many children start their day with a breakfast consisting of flavored milk containing nearly as much sugar as Mountain Dew.”The dairy industry thinks that’s no problem” but Dr.Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, sees that as a recipe for a health disaster.
Most of that sugar comes from sodas and other sugary beverages. Sugar, while delivering calories, has no nutritional value, and some have called it an “anti-nutrient” because of the health problems it can cause. Yet it has become a regular stand-in for real food in school meals because it delivers lots of calories at little cost.
Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health says the nation’s schools should not be serving sugary chocolate milk to children and that too many refined, starchy foods in the federally-subsidized school meals program pose a risk of obesity and other weight-related illness. Willett and Harvard colleagues recently went public with findings exonerating fat and blaming sugar and too many starchy carbohydrates — such as those found in bread, pasta, and potatoes — for many of the nation’s health problems, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. “People are getting 50 percent of their calories from carbs, and 80 percent of those calories are from refined starch and sugar,” Willett said. “Kids in school are getting the full brunt of that diet.”
Emory University found that children who eat lots of sugar are at greater risk for heart disease and recently founded that sugar accounted for more than 21 percent of the calories in the diets of average teenagers, resulting in lowered levels of “good cholesterol” (HDL) and elevated levels of fat in the blood (triglycerides), both key markers of heart disease.
Greg Miller, a nutritionist and executive vice-president of research , regulatory and scientific affairs at the National Dairy Council, defended flavored milk in school meals, saying he routinely feeds his own children chocolate milk because of the many nutrients it containscalcium, vitamin D, potassium, riboflavin, to name a fewand because his children won’t drink plain milk. Miller said studies indicate that kids offered chocolate and other milk products with added sugar get equally good nutrition as drinkers of plain milk and do not show signs of being any heavier. “Certainly we want to be concerned about sugar,” Miller said. “But I look at other places to cut sugarless nutrient-dense foods, like cookies.”
The National Dairy Council vigorously promotes flavored milk in school through the industry’s “Raise Your Hand for Chocolate Milk!” campaign. Miller noted that companies such as milk giant Dean Foods are looking for ways to reduce the sugar content of flavored milk. “We want to be a responsible industry,” he said.