Though there are many differing explanations for why it’s happening, there’s no arguing that childhood obesity is on the rise in the U.S. The latest battleground over our kids’ waistlines is the school lunchroom, where nutritionists are attempting to make arguments for and against the continued sale of chocolate milk.
The L.A. Times talked to a pair of noted nutritionists on opposite sides of this debate.
On the pro chocolate milk side is Rachel Johnson from the University of Vermont, who says that chocolate milk is better than no milk at all:
When children don’t drink flavored milk, they are substituting it with other sugary beverages, including sodas and sweetened fruit drinks, so they aren’t getting any less added sugar, but they are getting a lot less essential nutrients…
If you are going to eliminate flavored milk and milk consumption is going to drop by so much, you are going to have to think about re-planning the whole school menu so you add those nutrients back.
And in the opposite corner is Marlene Schwartz from Yale University, who takes issue with the studies saying kids won’t drink milk at all if you take away the chocolate flavor:
Rather than working to decrease the amount of added sugar in flavored milk, the dairy industry seems more interested in funding studies to convince parents and food service directors that kids won’t drink plain milk. The data from the study that showed a 35% drop in milk consumption when there was no flavored milk in school lunches are unconvincing to me, because most of their observations came from school districts that sold white milk every day and only offered flavored milk on certain days each week. I am not surprised that more children purchased the flavored milk when it was offered. You would find the same thing if on some days you offered plain strawberries and on other days you offered chocolate-covered strawberries. Does that mean we should always offer chocolate-covered fruit to make sure that children get enough nutrients?
Here’s your turn to chime in:
Pro / Con: Should chocolate milk be allowed in schools? [ChicagoTribune.com]