Some school districts have pulled chocolate milk from the menu because of added sugar content.  

The dairy industry has responded that the overall nutritional package of milk is such that it overrides the added sugar in the flavored varieties. Read “To paraphrase, ‘Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.’”

Against this backdrop, the Dairy Council of California has highlighted milk’s unique nutritional package as the top nutritional trend for 2012.

“Milk boasts higher protein, vitamins A, B12 and D, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and riboflavin levels than non-dairy drinks like soy and almond beverages,” the Council says. And, evidence continues to accumulate showing that milk consumption aids in the prevention of disease.  

Each year, the Dairy Council of California staff identifies what it considers to be the top 10 health and nutrition issues that may impact the dairy industry, either positively or negatively.

Here is the latest list, which the Council released last week:

  1. Milk products’ unique nutrient package plays an essential role in a healthy diet.
  2. Gut microbes are gaining interest in medical circles. Probiotics, which are live microorganisms added to yogurt and other products, are gaining attention for their purported health benefits.
  3. Protein’s list of health benefits grows.
  4. While obesity rate plateaus, incidence of diabetes and metabolic syndrome skyrockets.
  5. Sodium is center-stage. The food industry continues to reformulate products to lower sodium content. Yet, government recommendations for specific dietary components such as sodium are perceived by many experts as unrealistic.
  6. Supplements fall off of their “can do no wrong” pedestal. In other words, multivitamins and calcium supplements are coming under greater scrutiny. Read “Popular vitamins that can hurt you.”
  7. The good foods/bad good focus continues to plague the food industry. Food packaging and labels tend to focus on negative nutrients, such as sugars and sodium, rather than positive nutrients.
  8. Restriction-based changes in the school foodservice environment do not translate into healthier kids. (See previous discussion about chocolate milk.)
  9. Alternative approaches to eating are gaining a perceived “health halo.” For example, Meatless Mondays. There may be a perception that a meatless meal is low-calorie and healthier, which is not necessarily true, the Dairy Council says.
  10. Shifting demographics, social media are changing products and marketing.