Chocolate milk contains way too much sugar. An 8 fl oz serving (the standard carton served in schools) contains 3 teaspoons of added sugar! That sounds more like a treat than a healthy drink. Not something kids should be getting with their lunch at school on a daily basis.
The New York Times ran an article earlier this week on this matter, presenting arguments for both sides, and examples of actions taken by parents, lunch directors, and even entire school districts:
When students went back to school Monday in the District of Columbia, they were served only low-fat white milk. Berkeley, Calif., schools banned chocolate milk, and Florida school officials are considering it.
Is this the beginning of a new trend? Probably not. As we reported last month, The dairy industry published a report that demonstrated a precipitous drop in milk consumption at schools where “flavored milk” was removed. But the severely underfunded schools need to serve milk and have kids choose it in order to be eligible for funding from the government for the school lunch program. Get the picture?
We think there is a middle road that has not been fully explored yet. Serve flavored milk, by all means, but not with 3 teaspoons of added sugar. Isn’t 1 or 1.5 enough?
A while back, we asked Greg Miller, PhD, executive vice president of science and research for the National Dairy Council, why no manufacturer will try a slightly less sweet formulation.His response was that kids simply did not like the taste once a certain threshold of sugar was removed.
We believe that the answer is competition. No company wants to be the first to take the bold step of sugar reduction and lose out. With a tremendous oversupply of milk in this country, nobody wants to lose market share to a competitor for creating a drink that kids are less likely to choose.
As usual, the onus falls on parents to fight the uphill battle for their children’s health.