The great flavored milk debate

The great flavored milk debate

(NewsUSA) - A great debate has been building for the past five years in school districts across the country: Is flavored milk contributing to childhood obesity, and should it be taken out of schools?
Facts, research and experts say no. Flavored milk contains the same nine essential nutrients as white milk, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium, three nutrients that children aren't getting enough of, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
"On average, flavored milk accounts for only 2 percent of total calories and 3 percent of all added sugars in kids' diets. But studies show that schools see a severe drop in milk consumption when chocolate milk is taken away," says Alyssa Greenstein, a registered dietitian with the Dairy Council of Florida. "And the nutrients lost from not consuming enough milk aren't easy or affordable to replace."
Research finds that low-fat chocolate milk is the most widely chosen milk option in schools, and despite the availability of white milk, children will turn to sodas and fruit drinks if flavored milk is removed from cafeterias. Sodas are the main source of added sugar in children's diets, and unlike milk, they offer no nutritional value.
Many nutrition and health organizations -- including the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dietetic Association and the School Nutrition Association -- agree that flavored milk is a healthier alternative to soft drinks and a vital part of meeting the dietary needs of youngsters.
"If children don't drink milk with lunch, it becomes almost impossible for them to consume the daily intake of calcium, vitamin D and potassium, which are nutrients of concern as it is," says Greenstein.
Drinking flavored milk is a small but significant contributor to a child's total milk consumption, and it doesn't mean youngsters neglect white milk. In fact, flavored milk makes up only 20-26 percent of kids' total milk intake.
A recent survey of 1,000 moms discovered more than half opposed any school district decision to eliminate chocolate milk from the menu. In the past five years, milk processors nationwide have made significant nutritional changes in milk formulations. With 38 percent less added sugar, flavored milk is projected to contain, on average, just 31 calories more than white milk.
To see more of the nine essential nutrients found in flavored milk, visit www.floridamilk.com.