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Why chocolate milk should not be offered in the school cafeteria

Updated on September 3, 2012
 
 
 
Food, Standard Amount
Calcium (mg)
Calories
Reduced fat chocolate milk (2%), 1 cup
285
180
Fortified ready-to-eat cereals (various), 1 oz
236-1043
88-106
Soy beverage, calcium fortified, 1 cup
368
98
Sardines, Atlantic, in oil, drained, 3 oz
325
177
Tofu, firm, prepared with nigarib , ½ cup
253
88
Pink salmon, canned, with bone, 3 oz
181
118
Collards, cooked from frozen, ½ cup
178
31
Molasses, blackstrap, 1 Tbsp
172
47
Spinach, cooked from frozen, ½ cup
146
30
Soybeans, green, cooked, ½ cup
130
127
Turnip greens, cooked from frozen, ½ cup
124
24
Ocean perch, Atlantic, cooked, 3 oz
116
103
Oatmeal, plain and flavored, instant, fortified, 1 packet prepared
99-110
97-157
White beans, canned, ½ cup
96
153

With back-to-school season in full swing, kids are usually eating lunch at the school cafeteria. Unfortunately, for a lot of kids, that means an ice-cold carton of sugary milk along with their lunch and probably breakfast. In fact, that seemingly "nutritious" drink actually has more sugar than a can of soda. A 12 ounce can of coca-cola classic has 39 grams of sugar while a 12 ounce serving of nestle NESQuik lowfat chocolate milk has 42 grams of sugar. I for one, am disgusted with the idea that our public school system offers this junk to our kids in the name of nutrition.

Most school offer kids a choice between white and chocolate milk. Given the choice most kids will likely choose the sugary chocolate milk. Can we really expect a 5 year old to make an educated decision about the benefits and consequences of his beverage choice? Most adults struggle with making healthy choices, so I can only imagine that most kids will choose sweetened syrupy milk.

So, why do we offer sweetened milk to our kids day after day, sometimes for breakfast and lunch? Why, as a mom who tries to make healthy choices for my child, should she be offered this junk under the guise of a healthy, balanced meal? We owe it to our kids to remove this marketing gimmick from the school cafeteria menu. We should be making things easier for our children - not more difficult.

One argument that I keep hearing in support of chocolate milk is that "at least kids are drinking milk". Since when is it a good call to lace something with a load of sugar to get kids to consume it? I can't imagine anyone agreeing that we should add two cups of sugar to a salad just to get kids to eat their spinach. A cup of 2% milk contains 285 milligrams of calcium. There are much better ways to ensure that kids get enough calcium and vitamin D - see the chart to the right for non-dairy food items that are high in calcium. While the choices at the right may not seem like traditional kids choices, most kids will be open to new tastes if given lots of opportunities to experiment.

A big hit in our household is salmon patties made with canned salmon (high on the list). As a matter of fact, we are going to attempt salmon meatballs this week! Let's also not forget that kids will often eat other dairy products that have a lot less sugar than a glass of chocolate milk, such as greek yogurt (lower in sugar and higher in protein than traditional yogurt) or cheese of any variety. In fact, a 1.5 ounce serving of Romano cheese has 452 mg of calcium and 2 ounces of swiss cheese offers 438 calories. Both of these offer a great deal more calcium than chocolate milk with a ton less sugar.

It is so important for parents and educators to step up and demand that we serve our children healthy food in schools. Kids are relying on us to make wise choices for them. If we fail them today, they will struggle their entire lives to make the right choices when it comes to food. Sure, a chocolate milk treat is fine now and then, but don't ask a 4 year old to make the right choice when most adults in the room still can't. If you disagree that adults struggle with making healthy choices, please help me understand why American's spend so much money each year on diet and weight loss products.

I am asking you, as a parent, as an educator, as a family member and as a citizen to demand better for our children. Talk to your school board today and let them know your concerns about flavored milk in school. Of course, the deeper issue is about more than chocolate milk, it's about offering our kids healthy choices overall to prepare them for a healthy life and a good relationship with food.

Do you think flavored milk (AKA chocolate milk) should be offered in schools

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    • Written Up profile imageAUTHOR

      Written Up 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma City, OK

      Dreamlin, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I would love it if they offered organic milk at school. What a great suggestion. Maybe that would be a good comprise, flavored milk but it must be organic. I'm going to think about that.

      Thanks again for reading.

    • Dreamlin profile image

      Dreamlin 

      6 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      Before I buy anything, I always look at the nutrition factors. Nowadays, many food, snacks and dairy products have too much sugar or salt in them. I discover organic foods are healthier and safer. They normally contain less sugar or sodium and the prices are more acceptable these days with printable coupons and special weekly store sales events. All parents wish the best for their children. Sometimes, it’s not which one to choose, but what to choose.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think school should offer healthier products to children, like Organic Milk. For years, I used to dislike milk because it tastes “funny”, very unnatural, with some kind of chemical flavor. I stop drinking it until I discover organic milk. It offers natural flavor, and because of it, I fall once again in love with dairy products.

    • BereniceTeh90 profile image

      BereniceTeh90 

      6 years ago

      THAT'S ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!

      Milk is for babies; when you grow up you have to drink beer. =)

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