With childhood obesity rates at an all time high, school lunches are under the microscope again. Many young students eat breakfast and lunch at school resulting in most calories being consumed away from home. Experts know that providing healthy choices at school will inevitably have an impact for students buying school meals. The newest debate on the table revolves around the nutritional benefits of chocolate milk.
Nutritionists and childhood obesity advocates argue that chocolate milk is nothing more than soda in disguise. In an effort to cut out unnecessary calories it is suggested that chocolate milk be taken off the school lunch menu. Nearly 70% of all milk consumed in schools is flavored milk, including chocolate and strawberry. By giving children the option for flavored milks “We’ve taught them to drink chocolate milk, so we can unteach them that,” director of nutritional services for Boulder Valley School District Anne Cooper told USA Today.
To combat increasing obesity rates, it is of extreme importance to teach healthy habits at an early age. Most children who are currently obese will continue to be obese or morbidly obese in their adult life. Mimi Bonetti, a mother of two in Los Angeles, understands the importance of teaching healthy habits. “When you’re telling kids that drinking chocolate milk is a healthy choice, it’s sending the wrong message,” she said.
Others wonder if children will still drink milk if chocolate and strawberry are not available. This side of the debate attests that the extra sugar is worth the benefit of encouraging children to drink milk at all. Deborah Bellholt, a mother of six in Los Angeles, argues that none of her children will drink plain milk. She advocates for the continuation of chocolate milk in schools under the theory that by “allowing kids flavored milk, they still get the calcium they need.”
So how does flavored milk compare to plain milk? An 8oz serving of plain milk served at schools contains 14 grams of sugar. Chocolate milk packs in an extra six grams, and strawberry milk serves a whopping 27 grams of sugar to kids per 8oz serving. While several American school districts are banning flavored milks all together, others are researching natural sweeteners, such as Truvia, to cut down on high fructose corn syrups.
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