Is chocolate milk ban-worthy?

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Chocolate milk in school lunches continues to garner attention. Last week, Santa Monica-Malibu schools in California decided to buck the current trend of banning chocolate milk and keep it on the menu. But just yesterday, public schools in Fayetteville, Ark., decided to remove chocolate milk from its breakfast menus. And so the contentious debate surrounding chocolate milk continues.

Is chocolate milk really ban-worthy? James Rippe, a cardiologist and founder and director of Rippe Lifestyle Institute, says no.

“Some schools have banned chocolate milk or are contemplating banning chocolate milk because they are concerned with the added sugar in milk,” says Rippe. “The idea is that banning chocolate milk might be a way to combat childhood obesity.” However, there are no studies that link chocolate milk to childhood obesity.

Yet, there are studies that show what happens when chocolate milk is banned. There is a direct correlation between chocolate milk consumption and overall milk consumption in children. “If you ban chocolate milk, immediately milk consumption is decreased by 35 percent,” explains Rippe. This is also a 35 percent decrease in consumption of calcium and Vitamin D.

A ban on chocolate milk means that vitamin D and calcium consumption are cut down by more than one-third at a time when children need it most, he says. “I understand the impulse to ban chocolate milk as a way to potentially combat childhood obesity. But it won’t work and will have no benefit, just unintended consequences.”

Recently, Rippe conducted a 24-week study to examine the added sugars found in flavored milk and the impact on weight loss. Results indicate that it is possible to actually lose weight when consuming added sugars found in flavored milk as part of a healthy diet and when consumed in moderation.  

When individuals in the study consumed chocolate milk, they significantly improved the amount of calcium they took in as well as vitamin D and potassium, says Rippe. Those three nutrients are often lacking in people's diets. 

To put things in perspective, if you eliminate chocolate milk from the school system, you are eliminating significantly important nutrients. And, Rippe says that only one-third of boys and one-fifth of girls consume the recommended three servings of low-fat milk products daily. “It’s very important to understand that sweeteners in chocolate milk can make the milk more palatable and more enjoyable to consume. This is something often forgotten in the debate of added sugar.”

 Rippe also discusses some of the misunderstanding that surrounds high fructose corn syrup and sucrose in the YouTube video shown above. Rippe says high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are nutritionally equal.

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Reno, NV  |  August, 30, 2011 at 08:47 AM

Chocolate milk is soda in drag. I also love the moderation argument; nothing like eating a pound of sugar a day and calling it moderation, lol. Also, fructose basically turns your liver into a triglyceride factory. The healthiest thing one could do is abandon all sugar. If you want to drink milk, drink it real with the fat and cultures left in it.

Bentonville Arkansas  |  August, 30, 2011 at 10:01 AM

You can find fact based information about benefits of flavored milk on the national dairy council website.

pa  |  August, 30, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Stephen, you are right in saying the healthiest thing "one" can do is....., however, kids don't usually make their drink and food choices solely on health (most adults too) so having chocolate milk on the menu is important because it is much prefered and therefore consumed by a segment of the population that needs those dense nutrients found in dairy the most. When my kids are home, I know when they do and don't drink all their milk. When they are at school, I don't know. So much milk and food goes in the trash at schools - its a waste. Kids will drink more chocolate milk - period. Cut the sugar somewhere else!

PA  |  August, 30, 2011 at 12:14 PM

A pound of sugar!?! 3 servings of chocolate milk is less than 80 grams of sugar a day - if one consumes 3 servings of chocolate milk ( most don't). A pound of sugar is 454 grams. Provide a low sugar cereal with breakfast and that will substitute for the extra sugar a child consumes at lunch in one serving of chocolate milk or skip the juice which is high sugar with no calcium, protein or vit D. Add 20 minutes of excerise a day and that extra sugar from their lunch will be metabolized. "Soda in drag"??? No comparison! Soda is non-nutritional. There is NO nutrition to soda other than calories from sugar. The phosphoric acid in soda actually reduces calcium absorption from other foods, so in addition to providing no nutritional benefit - it is actually harming nutritional status. Milk is dense with necessary nutrients. PLEASE be educated before making nonsense comments to support some ideologic concept that is unrealistic in today's society.

Reno, NV  |  August, 30, 2011 at 02:25 PM

I have nothing against real milk, just the low-fat added sugar crap with a high glycemic index to boot. I said to drink real milk - the grass fed unpasteurized kind. Also, sugar contents add up over the day. The average (fat) American consumes close to two-hundred pounds of sugar in a given year - not including total carbohydrates. Also, cereal is candy for breakfast.

Joe Itle    
Martinsburg, Pa.  |  August, 30, 2011 at 06:10 PM

Fluid milk consumption in the United States is decreasing on an annual basis. Could it be that the increase in childhood obesity is related to a reduction in the use of dairy and an increase in alternative beverages? I would like to see the research where children and adults are overweight because of drinking too much milk of any type!

Peter Leighton    
Ann Arbor  |  August, 30, 2011 at 09:25 PM

There is a solution to this Chocolate Milk Dilemma. An all-natural powdered chocolate milk mix called MojoMilk ( contains 60% fewer calories than leading brands and also delivers 10x more healthy probiotics than yogurt. Perhaps the school systems should provide some MojoMilk, or at least parents should put it in their kids lunch box.

Elkhorn, Wisconsin  |  August, 30, 2011 at 09:57 PM

Milk from a traditional farm that ships their milk to a processor and pasteurizes it before it goes to the consumer is the wisest thing to do. All dairy farmers place cow comfort as their number one priority as it helps them to provide their own families and consumers with the most cost-effective healthy product that one can buy. Milk has nine essential vitamins and minerals and is what the body needs, especially for growing, maturing young people. When kids are in sports they especially need the protein that is in chocolate milk to help rebuild muscles effectively and give them the energy after metabolism. Children that don't have good eating habits do need to have chocolate milk at their schools in order to help them get some of the required nutrients in their diets. It is interesting to me that people that don't have anything to do with agriculture seem to know more about this topic than the people that are hands-on with the animals or pretend to know even more than educated nutritionists and doctors.

Laurie A. Kyle, BNS    
Elkhorn, Wisconsin  |  August, 30, 2011 at 10:11 PM

It is really important to have dairy in your diet each and every day. Milk provides nine essential vitamins and minerals. There is no other drink on the market that is healthier. Chocolate milk is and will continue to be the best sports drink that an athlete can consume. Chocolate milk has the right blend of carbohydrate and protein to help refresh the body especially after a rigorous workout. It is a proven fact that athletes work harder if they drank chocolate milk the day before. Everyone needs carbohydrates in the diet because it provides energy to fuel the muscles. Obesity is an issue in our young because parents don't serve their children good healthy foods and children don't get off the couch long enough to burn any energy. Video games and cell phones are viewed as exercise which is ridiculous. It is amazing that people that aren't connected at all to agriculture feel they know more about what is the best way to produce a healthy product. As a mom, dairy producer and nutritionist I feel comfortable serving pastuerized milk from our dairy farm to my own two children and consumers. Our dairy is a traditional dairy farm and we work with our girls 24/7 in order to assure consumers that we have our animals best interest at heart. Dairy farmers are very concerned about cow comfort because we realize that when the girls are happy they will provide a healthy, economical, safe product for all consumers. I say go visit a local dairy farm and find out the real facts about dairy which includes chocolate milk.

Reno, NV  |  August, 31, 2011 at 06:59 AM

Carbohydrates aren't needed in the diet at all. There is no such thing as essential carbohydrates, only amino acids and fatty acids. Also, calories in = calories out is not the best model to follow for losing weight or preventing weight gain.

Wisconsin the dairy state  |  August, 31, 2011 at 09:08 AM

Chocolate milk ISN"T a healthy option ...... kids in school already have way too much sugar and carbs. CARBOHYDRATES are NOT an essential part of the diet, unless your goal IS to fatten up. Excellant book to read is Why WE Get Fat by Gary Taubes just a note, I love milk and drink milk, whole white milk

Illinois  |  September, 02, 2011 at 02:52 PM

Celine is the carbs consumed in a specific lunch program an issue? In newer larger schools where students can grab ala carte any food item they choose, then it can become a problem, but for most elementary schools the lunch menu is specific for the foods served. I would venture to say that many children may stop on their way home from school or once home snack on whatever foods they choose. My office is near a Jr. High school and I often see kids with sodas, candy, junk food as they walk home. The kids make choices based on what they see their parents or peers consuming. Stephen drinking the milk straight from the cow is not advisable in this day of "germs" and "legal" issues. Taking whole fat and unpasteurized milk to the school may be the best way to drink milk, I did growing up on the farm, yet today food standards ie health departments and delivery systems established for milk in schools today just would not allow for the product in its natural state. One case of sickness from unpasteurized milk put a black eye on the whole industry not to mention the cost of lawsuits. Carbs are necessary for the body, may not be 'essential' but are necessary for cellular function.

Ohio  |  September, 06, 2011 at 10:21 PM

Hurray for the Ohio High School Athletic Association for naming chocolate milk as it's official drink!!!

Ohio  |  September, 06, 2011 at 10:21 PM

Hurray for the Ohio High School Athletic Association for naming chocolate milk as it's official drink!!!

Ohio  |  September, 06, 2011 at 10:24 PM

Hooray to the Ohio iHgh School Athletic Association for naming chocolate milk as their official drink!

Ohio  |  September, 06, 2011 at 10:24 PM

Hooray to the Ohio iHgh School Athletic Association for naming chocolate milk as their official drink!

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