A new study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture tells a somber story when it comes to fluid milk consumption -- or the lack thereof. 

Between USDA dietary intake surveys in 1977-78 and 2007-08, the share of pre-adolescent children who did not drink fluid milk on a given day rose from 12 percent to 24 percent, according to the report. 

Pre-adolescents aren’t the only ones to show a decline.

In 1977-78, 39 percent of adolescents and adults drank milk with a morning meal, the report says. By 2007-08, the percentage had decreased to 28 percent. 

Why is this happening?

Researchers blame generational differences. From a wider selection of beverage choices to changes in food environment, children today are developing habits that will continue through their adult life. Therefore, the decline in milk consumption will likely continue.  

It is a trend that worries researchers.

“Because greater decreases in consumption frequency are observed among more recent generations of Americans, it may be difficult to reverse ongoing consumption trends. Indeed, holding all other factors constant, the gradual replacement in the population of older generations by newer generations will exert downward pressure on Americans’ average consumption of fluid milk,” the study concluded.

Read, “Why Are Americans Consuming Less Fluid Milk? A Look at Generational Differences in Intake Frequency.”

However, all may not be lost. At the 2011 Dairy Forum meeting, Steven Goldbach, partner at the Monitor research firm, outlined a marketing strategy developed from extensive consumer research. Just as Taco Bell reminds its customers that it is “open late” or that Snickers candy cars satisfy hunger between meals, the same approach can be used for fluid milk.

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