Shown to Be Beneficial
Chocolate milk contains the same great nutrient-rich package as white milk, including vitamin D, calcium and potassium – three nutrients often lacking in the diets of children, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Drinking flavored milk can help children meet the recommendation for three daily servings of dairy foods, while providing key nutrients necessary for growth and development.
Research published in 2017 in the Journal of School Health showed that children who drink flavored milk drink more milk overall and consume more nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D. This adds to previous research that shows drinking flavored or plain milk is positively associated with nutrient intakes and is not associated with adverse effects on weight status in U.S. children and adolescents. Children who drink flavored milk, drink more milk overall, have better quality diets, do not have higher intakes of added sugar or fat and are just as likely to be at a healthy weight when compared with kids who do not drink flavored milk.
Chocolate Milk in Schools Has Less Added Sugar
The milk served in schools today is regulated by nutrition standards and has been reformulated over the years to have significantly less added sugar and fewer calories.
Every 8-ounce glass of milk, white or flavored, naturally contains 12 grams of sugar in the form of lactose. Today’s flavored milk in school contains an average of only 6 grams of added sugars – the sugars we want to minimize in the diet – while containing around 130 calories per 8-ounce serving.
On average, flavored milk contributes just 3 to 4 percent of added sugars to children’s diets, while providing nine essential nutrients children need for growth and development. In comparison, carbonated soda and fruit drinks contribute 45 percent of added sugars and 9 percent of calories to kids’ diets and tend to provide very little, if any, nutritional value.
The Danger of Eliminating Flavored Milk from Schools
A national study reviewing The Impact on Student Milk Consumption and Nutrient Intakes from Eliminating Flavored Milk in Schools demonstrated that eliminating flavored milk from elementary schools resulted in a dramatic 35 percent drop in milk consumption, which did not rebound over time. Similar results occurred in Colorado.
More recent studies showed similar decreases in milk consumption when flavored milk is removed from schools:
- Impact on Milk Consumption and Nutrient Intakes from Eliminating Flavored Milk in Elementary Schools (2013)
- Chocolate Milk Consequences: A Pilot Study Evaluating the Consequences of Banning Chocolate Milk in School Cafeterias (2014)
A Canadian study published in 2015 concluded that overall milk consumption decreased by 48 percent in a four-week period when flavored milk was removed from school milk programs.
- 1% Chocolate Milk in Schools
- Flavored Milk: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
- American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement: Snacks, Sweetened Beverages, Added Sugars, and Schools, 2015
- Children and Adolescents’ Choices of Foods and Beverages High in Added Sugars Are Associated With Intakes of Key Nutrients and Food Groups (Journal of Adolescent Health, 2004)
- Children Who Avoid Drinking Cow’s Milk Are at Increased Risk for Pre-pubertal Bone Fractures (Journal of American Dietetic Association, 2004)
- American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report: Optimizing Bone Health in Children and Adolescents
- The Nutritional Consequence of Flavored-Milk Consumption by School-Aged Children and Adolescents in the United States (Journal of American Dietetic Association, 2002)
- Flavored Milk is a Nutritious Choice for Children
- Flavored Milk and the School Meal Environment
- Science Summary: Milk & Beverage Trends