Did Banning Chocolate Milk in Schools Really Backfire?

Chocolate Milk

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.


  • Utopia

    Reducing sugar not just in chocolate milk, but all food choices is something I have wished the food companies would do for years. Take yogurt for example. It’s way too sweet, sometimes 16-26g of sugar for a single serving! Instead of just adding half the sugar companies feel the need to keep the same level of sweetness by replacing sugar with nasty artificial sweetners. They leave me feeling unsatisfied, sometimes more hungry and not to mention the terrible chemical taste. I think food companies are out of touch with what consumers want. I dare them to simply reduce the sugar in chocolate milk, dried cranberries, condiments, bread, yogurt etc and see what happens. Maybe these reduced sugar products will thrive better in some markets over others, but I guarantee there would be a market for it.

  • MIchael Prager

    Maybe all the information is in the report, but it’s sure not in this story. Milk sales went down 8 percent? Because they stopped selling a milk product? No news there. And, 29 percent of white milk was wasted? So? What percentage of other stuff was wasted? What was the waste percentage a month before the suspension? Is there something about the suspension of sales of chocolate milk that contributed to those? … These are meaningless numbers that imply that removal of chocolate milk is somehow bad, without coming close to proving that. How about we decide, collectively, that using sugar as an instrument of bribery isn’t a healthy idea, no matter what else it is promoting?

  • 4theluv
  • AdoptiveMomOf7

    29% of white milk was thrown out…
    Unopened?? Pity they couldn’t just place them on a table instead of putting them in the trash. That could have really helped soup kitchens or a homeless shelter. Why must we be so wasteful?

    • Mdiabetic123

      My high school used to do that! I had asked around as to why and no one could give me a straight answer except that “the government said we can’t”. I proposed this topic for my project citizen.

  • School Bites

    Hemi: You may want to take a close look at the study. Bad science?!? http://school-bites.com/chocolate-milk-bans-in-schools-study/

  • Karrina

    They never banned chocolate milk in my school…? Daily they offer us with out lunch fat free white milk, 1% white milk, fat free chocolate milk, and fat free strawberry milk (even more sugar then chocolate)

  • Christa

    This information is slightly inaccurate. Flavored milk is not banned in schools. Schools are only allowed to serve non-fat flavored milk and white or non-fat white. They also MUST offer two varieties of milk per meal. Research strongly supports that flavored milk increases milk consumption.
    Source: I certify school lunch programs are meeting new requirements for my state Child and Adult Nutrition Services office.

  • enayday

    Some Schools Make The Kids Take The Milk Weather They Want It Or Not. Some Years Ago There Was Talk About Serving Soy Milk In Schools As An Alternative For The Children That Was Allergic To Dairy Or Just Did Not Like Milk I Wonder Why They Did Not Go Through With That. Oh I know Why Because They Decide To Put Soda Machines In Schools instead

  • Amber @ Au Coeur

    I never understood what the need was to make kids drink cow’s milk after they have weaned. If they want to, great, but why do they have to? There are plenty of foods with higher levels of calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D. I wouldn’t drink a glass of milk for anything; though I love milk products and use it in my cooking all the time, the though of gulping down a glass of milk makes me want to gag. If I wouldn’t drink it, why would I expect my children to?


  • Bean

    What’s wrong with drinking water?! It’s my beverage of choice and should be kids too. Milk has hormones and antibiotics!!! There is no organic milk in schools!! The dairy company is funded by govt. please encourage kids and adults to drink more water!!!

  • Aussie

    The school district in my area has 20 grams of sugar (5 tsp of sugar) in the chocolate milk in a tiny carton… crazy.

  • Aria Gonzalez

    My thought on this is, do you want it low fat or do you want it unsweetened? Pick one. Because low fat unsweetened is just crap.

  • Disgusted

    If they don’t want to reduce sugar..I hope they all go out of business …stupid stupid companies…

  • http://www.supermom101.com/ SuperMom101

    UGH! Here’s the real truth: water is not offered as a beverage choice on school lunch menus because the Federal government says there is “no nutritional value in water” and won’t reimburse your school lunch program if it’s offered on the menu. So, I wonder “who” or “what industry” bans water on the lunch tray? The same industry trying to get chocolate milk back on the menu? (In my day, chocolate milk was the cow’s milk that was about to spoil.)

    Does anyone else find it strange that America (and her children) have never been fatter or sicker and we can’t seem to figure out why?

    Best health always,

  • Mamamo

    I think its a wonderful thing milk consumption dropped! Why do people think milk is good for you? And why are we forcing it on our kids?

  • benjamincgessel

    Milk is a “funny” kind of food, as is all dairy, in my opinion. I say “funny”, because it is primarily cow’s milk that is intended by nature for baby calves… It just has a few funky things about it, like casein and some other garbage nobody wants to know about it (regarding how it is processed). Milk shouldn’t be a staple food, esp. chocolate milk. People should get their calcium and vitamin D from vegetables, mushrooms, fish/soft fish bones, nuts/seeds, almond/rice/banana/coconut milk, supplements, and also a bit of meat. Still, kids could do much worse than dairy to get most of their calcium… (Well, if you get that much worse, you probably won’t have any calcium/vitamin D anyway…)

  • benjamincgessel

    I forgot soy… Oh well, you can find calcium and vitamin D in lots of foods…

    • guest

      Soy is not good for male children due to it makes estrogen levels go up in male children

      • benjamincgessel

        I agree. Here’s the thing though. The more that a natural, whole food is researched (ANY of them), the more that there are new discoveries about that food. And EVERY whole food has very different qualities, and ways that it can improve our health. Every single fruit, vegetable, bean, nut, seed, or grain has nearly infinite qualities (most, or almost all of which are good and beneficial).

        Soy is something that I will occasionally eat. Occasionally, mind you. I don’t drink soy milk anymore. I did at one time, but never too much at once even then. I drank almond and rice milk instead, esp. almond milk. Then, a while back, I gave up cereal (due to a diet I started), along with a bunch of other foods, including non-dariy milk. So I got my calcium and D from that point on from veggies, fish, nuts/seeds and supplements, along with some D from mushrooms, etc.

        I suppose I was just being comprehensive about calcium sources, etc. (Sesame seeds are great for calcium as well.) But yeah, I agree with you-soy is not the sort of thing guys should be eating, or, at the very most, soy should only be eaten occasionally, in small amounts, etc.

  • J$

    What if they offer almond milk? It had way less sugar and taste great.