Chocolate milk accounts for over 60 percent of the milk offered in schools today. Kids love it, mostly due to the high sugar content – about 3 teaspoons of added sugar for an 8 fluid ounce drink. But kids consume way too many calories from added sugars, and therefore some schools have started offering only unflavored milk.
A study conducted by Cornell University in several elementary schools in Oregon has shown that this ban on chocolate milk has led to a reduction in milk consumption:
- Milk sales dropped by 8 percent
- 29 percent of white milk was thrown out
This is not surprising. Kids like sweets. Plain milk is not sweet. If you are used to chocolate milk, it will take time to acclimate to a non-sweetened version.
But does that mean chocolate milk should be reintroduced into schools?
Here’s a crazy idea: What if manufacturers reduced the sugar in chocolate milk? One teaspoon is enough. Unfortunately, no food company wants to be the first to reduce sugar, because of the risk of losing market share.
This is where public health policy could easily help both kids AND food manufacturers. If the USDA would revise its school nutrition policy to allow no more than 1 teaspoon of added sweeteners to milk sold in schools, all companies would have to comply. Kids would drink their flavored milk, sales would go back up, and collectively we would save billions of calories a year.