Monday, June 20, 2005

Let them Drink....Chocolate Milk?

Palm Beach Country schools have decided to eliminate whole milk from their offerings next year.

Why?

According to an article in the Sun-Sentinel [Palm Beach County schools will only offer fat-free and skim milk next year] a number of reasons are given:
  • Whole milk has more fat in it - at least 3.25% in whole milk versus 2% or less in reduced fat varieties
  • Whole milk only makes up 25% of the sales versus 41% of sales for low-fat chocolate milk
  • Whole milk has more calories than other varieties

Its elimination is part of a gradual withdrawal of unhealthy foods from school menus.

Let me see if I have this right...whole, plain milk is unhealthy, so it's being eliminated...and chocolate milk is going to still be offered - does that mean it's "healthy?"

What other "heathly" options are listed among those foods available to schoolchildren?

  • Fat-free or skim regular milk
  • Fat-free or skim chocolate milk
  • Fat-free or skim strawberry milk
  • Reduced selection of sodas in vending machines (they're not eliminated?)
  • Baked potato chips

Get this...The sugar in the sweetened milks is less of a concern than the cholesterol-inducing fat of whole milk, nutritionists say.

Are they kidding?

An 8-ounce serving of whole milk has less calories (156-calories) than an 8-ounce serving of reduced-fat chocolate milk (180-calories) according to the USDA Nutrient Database, and has much less carbohydrate (sugars, both naturally occuring and added) 11g in whole milk versus 26g in low-fat chocolate milk! The whole milk and reduced-fat chocolate milk both have about 8g of protein; the whole milk 8.9g of fat and the reduced-fat chocolate milk 5g of fat.

Are we really that obessed with fat content that we're willing to eliminate whole milk in favor of reduced-fat chocolate milk with 15g more sugar - added-sugar - or almost 4-teaspoons of additional sugar....and call it healthy? Think about that for a moment - would you, as a parent, add four teaspoons of sugar to your child's glass of milk?

Cited in the article is a study from the University of Vermont that found that that children who drank flavored, low-fat milks increased their calcium consumption and drank fewer sodas and fruit juices.

I doubt they've considered the weight of the evidence - other studies contradict the notion that fat calories are the main culprit in childhood obesity; raise concerns about not only the type of milk consumption itself, but how much milk is consumed in childhood as a predictor of overweight and obesity; and question the role of even diet sodas in rising obesity rates.

Schools do need to be more accountable for the foods they allow served in the cafeteria and on school grounds.

Eliminating whole milk while keeping low-fat, sugar-added, flavored milk is just setting children up for lifetime eating habits that are unacceptable - not only are these beverages less nutrient-dense, they also have added-sugar - empty calories - something we should be trying to restrict in a child's diet so as to not crowd out nutrient-dense foods with sugar-laden options.

Here's a thought - why not offer water?

3 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree with you more. Again, fat is the enemy while sugar gets a wink and a smile--something is very wrong with this 'fat is bad, sugar good' thinking in this country.
    You summed up your article perfectly--why not offer water?
    How about taking it a step further? Don't even offer milk at all--just offer good, clean water to children? Milk is for baby cows, anyway, isn't it? Humans shouldn't be drinking it, should we?
    Adam Wilk

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  2. Anonymous1:41 PM

    Ok, I agree with you, but throughout this entire article you're portraying that "nutritionists" are wrong and bad leading to the idea that Dietitians are as well. When someone claims to be a "nutritionist" it could be anyone. Your sister, brother, mom, dad, or best friend to claim that they are a nutritionist and not have a sigle class of education to back up what they say. Registered Dietitians are who you need to ask and reference if you want accurate information. We have went to school for 4+ years from an accredited university, completed an average of a 10 month internship, and passed quite an extensive exam to be called what we are. The term "nutritionist" doesn't mean a thing to me and it really demotes the article.

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  3. Can you point out where I railed against nutritionists? Perhaps this is a comment for another article?

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