Healthy Debate: Chocolate Verses White Milk

by in Food News, September 22, 2010


Sweet chocolate milk is causing bitter cafeteria showdowns around the country. School lunch advocates who want the chocolate stuff nixed from the cafeteria menu say it packs almost as much sugar as soda, but others say it’s better for kids to drink chocolate milk than no milk at all.

Get our take, plus the pros and cons and the scoop from the National Dairy Council’s dietitian.

The Debate
As more and more kids turned to beverages like soda, sports and juice drinks, milk producers pushed flavored milks. Many schools offer both strawberry- and chocolate-flavored milk their cafeterias. Many parents and dietitians (like myself) are worried that daily flavored milk consumption will have kids downing too much sugar. Schools are thinking the same thing: in Fairfax County, Virginia they’ve banned the stuff completely, and Florida schools may follow suit.

But milk farmers, nutrition directors and some moms (like Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak) say kids will avoid milk altogether if the sugary drinks are banned. We asked dietitian Karen Kafer from the National Dairy Council to weigh in on the debate.

“Low-fat or fat-free white or flavored milk helps youth get the three daily servings of milk and milk products recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and it provides three of the four ‘nutrients of concern’ that children do not get enough of—calcium, potassium and magnesium,” says Kafer. “Dairies across the U.S. have reformulated flavored milk so it’s lower in both sugar and total calories.  These new products aim to reduce sugar and calories while maintaining great taste, so that kids will drink their milk instead of throwing it away.”

The Nutrition Facts
Low-fat and fat-free (a.k.a. skim or non-fat) milk provides protein, calcium and vitamins D and A. Calcium is especially important for growing bones as is protein for their growing bodies. One cup of milk provides 30 percent of kids’ calcium needs. Serving up low-fat and fat-free milk at school provides easy access to these nutrients.

What Studies Show
Several studies have examined the effects of drinking milk (flavored and white) on sugar and calorie intake. Two studies published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2002 and 2008 found that those who drank milk (flavored or plain) got in more nutrients like calcium, vitamin A, phosphorus and potassium and didn’t consume more sugar or calories than non-milk drinkers.

The Compromise
My suggestion: serve low-fat and fat-free flavored milk once or twice a week in school as a special treat. But there’s more to this picture that needs to be addressed. Sodas and sugary beverages that have zero nutritional value shouldn’t be allowed in schools period — that includes kids who bring their own lunch.

TELL US: Should chocolate milk be banned from cafeterias?

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

More posts from .
Tags: ,

Similar Posts

Noticed: Whey on the Way

Cheers! Whey's time has come. ...

Comments (102)

  1. […] MilkOne of the best recovery foods you can find, chocolate milk offers carbs and protein, plus fluid, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes–everything your […]

  2. […] Milk One of the best recovery foods you can find, chocolate milk offers carbs and protein, plus fluid, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes–everything your […]

  3. Alaska Pete says:

    I'm way late to this party, but wanted to chime in, especially to respond to the thought that if the sweet stuff isn't offered then kids won't drink any milk at all. I work in schools in rural Alaska. Up until very recently, the only drink choices were water or white milk. Nearly all the kids drank white milk. I think if all of the schools in the lower 48 had a similar dearth of options (water or plain milk), a lot more kids would drink milk! Don't let pop/juice be an option. Now our school district here has added chocolate and strawberry milk as lunch time options, and surprise surprise ALL the kids are drinking the sugary stuff. My kids are in school and are choosing the sweet stuff too. I think its dumb that any change was made when things were going fine.

  4. morgan deleon says:

    i am a student i think kids should have the choice of milk because it gives a sweet treat to the kids and in reten you get health bones and the potien for kid to get mucles and to repair the dead skin cells in your body.i am prowed of my self that i drink milk in genral

  5. Martin says:

    Wow people why are we discussing about this and not the human population. Also we need to find a solution for that problem. There are other things more important than this topic. The other one is about aliens and government cover ups. They could or I could release a
    disease to decrease the human population. This will help man kind and the world. Wwwwwwwwwwwwhhhhhhhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyyy dddddddddoooooonnnnnttttttttttt pppppppppeeeeeeooooopppllllleeeee ever TTttttttthhhhhiiiiiinnnnkkkkkk

  6. KidsontheMove says:

    Studies have been done to show a direct link between child obesity and lack of physical activity. It's funny how the obesity rate rose tenfold once schools were forced to take P.E. out of the curriculum due to budget cuts. What this article fails to mention is that most schools that still carry chocolate milk use TrooMoo – Which has 18 grams of sugar – 12 of which are from lactose, found also in white milk – giving TrooMoo a total of only 1.5 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Also, they served chocolate milk while I was growing up, the only difference is that my generation played outside and didn't have video games or computers to sit in front of once they got home.

  7. actnjksn says:

    Anyone notice that the only expert quoted is from the National Dairy Council? Not even an attempt to be objective. My child is given chocolate milk and orange juice every morning, first thing. Nothing a parent can do to stop it, so stop saying it's up to the parents. I've managed to keep her away from regularly eating sweets and other non-nutritious things for five years, and now she's in school all of that is going to naught.

  8. Rebekah says:

    What about fruit juice that has no sugar added?

  9. Bex says:

    while 100% Juice has no sugar added, sugar naturally occurs in all fruit. An 8oz glass of 100% Orange Juice is made with approximately 7 oranges. I'm sure neither you, nor your child, would ever sit and eat 7 oranges. Don't be fooled by "no sugar added" if you are watching the sugar intake.

  10. JEN says:

    i agree totally! y give them milk when theyr guna go outside and play in the heat after? that's just silly. it makes no sense. wut about water bottles and like Rebekah said fruit juice with no surgar. Hello!!! get with it people u all are making these kids hate school cuz ur taking everything from them that is NORMAL!!!!!! ARE WE REALLY IN AMERICA????????????

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>