Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Candy Disguised as Milk

So we call this progress? Milk flavored to taste like a Milky Way candy bar?

Now don't get me wrong, if as an adult you want to drink this liquid candy, that is certainly your choice. I wouldn't recommend it, but it is your choice.

However, when the media suggests that these new products "do a body good" - well, I have a problem with that. Case in point: The Orlando Sentinel today ran the article, It's a milk shake-up as new flavors hit dairy aisle, with the lead sentence, [t]he sugary alternatives still do a body good and are better for children than sodas, some nutritionists say. [emphasis mine]

It's insulting that the media thinks readers will see this as "news." This is most definitely not "news" but a carefully crafted advertisement designed to convince readers that the new flavored sugary milks are good for them and their children!

For kids who hate milk, the discovery of the newfangled flavors can be a real mouth-opener.


The push to sell flavored milk comes during growing concerns about obesity and unhealthy eating, particularly in children. For the past two years, health officials have urged schools to replace soft drinks sold in vending machines with more healthful options, such as water, fruit juice and milk.

Do you really think nutritionists and doctors who have emphasized drinking beverages other than soft drinks - like water and milk - meant sugar-added milk? I don't think so. But, you can always find one somewhere to say that such is a good idea, even when all common-sense tells you it just isn't true!

Rachel Brandeis, a registered dietitian who lives in Atlanta and serves as a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, says she often recommends flavored milk, "especially to moms who can't get their kids to drink milk. . . . Soda doesn't give you any type of added value, only excess calories. Milk, even if flavored, is a good source of calcium, vitamin D and protein."

I wonder if Ms. Brandeis has even looked at the ingredients in these new flavored milks?

The Milky Way flavored milk I have pictured above is a product of Bravo! Foods, recently acquired by Coca-Cola. Their website provides complete nutrition information for visitors, including a list of ingredients in their various products. They are in PDF format, but that's OK - here is the PDF for Slammers Milky Way Milk.

This product isn't simply sweetened with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. It also has three different artificial sweeteners in it too! I can't even imagine how sweet this is with five total added sweeteners, both natural and artificial!

Here are the ingredients, with the added sugars bolded in black and the artificial sweeteners bolded in red:
Reduced Fat Milk, Sugar, Non-Fat Milk, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Chocolate Syrup (Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Water, Salt, Vanillin), Potassium Citrate, Sodium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Cllulose Gel, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Neotame, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D3.

This is a great example of why you need to read labels! There is no mention of the artifical sweeteners used in the article, and they certainly are not being highlighted on Bravo! Foods website either.

Not only are these products bottled with TWO SERVINGS in a bottle, they are comparable to soda and other soft drinks for sugar content.

Even worse, they have artificial sweeteners, which may or may not be problematic for children to consume...we simply do not have studies and data to support children ingesting large quantities of artificial sweeteners. And if these types of drink do become part of a child's daily diet, it is a large amount of artificial sweetener being ingested, along with added sweeteners like sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.

Folks, the only way children will learn to appreciate beverages like water, 100% fruit and/or vegetable juice and milk is if they are drinking these beverages in their natural state without added sugars or artificial sweeteners!

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