When school resumes in the fall, cafeterias will be serving more whole grains, more fresh vegetables and milk kids, schools and moms will love. With the ongoing debate over flavored milk in schools, many of the nation’s milk processors have been hard at work over the last five years with their local districts to lower the calories and sugar in this popular drink.
This school year when kids pick up a carton of flavored milk with their lunch, the majority will be less than 150 calories. It’s projected to contain, on average, just 31 calories more than white milk – the result of ongoing work by the nation’s milk processors to provide nutritious new products with the same great taste kids love. Continuing a five-year trend in school milk changes, the industry’s reformulations are projected to result in fat free and lowfat chocolate milks with 38 percent less added sugar in the last five years, according to a new national analysis of flavored milk in school.
“Milk is a nutritious, core component of school meals and the milk industry is committed to offering a product that meets school nutrition standards and is appealing to students,” said Vivien Godfrey, CEO of the Milk Processor Education Program, made up of the nation’s milk processors. “Whether plain or flavored, milk contributes so many vital nutrients to a child’s diet and we want to do our part to be sure the milk on the tray is enjoyed and actually consumed with the meal.”
Milk companies across the U.S. are reformulating flavored milk to lower total calories and decrease added sugars and fat, while preserving its nutritional value and taste appeal. These new products aim for 150 calories and fewer than 22 grams of total sugar (or 10 grams of added sugars) per 8-ounce serving.
The Great Debate
Due to concerns about childhood obesity, some schools have made the decision to remove chocolate and other flavored milks from the cafeteria. Even though these bans have been well-intentioned, they have done more nutritional harm than good. Research suggests lowfat chocolate milk is the most popular milk choice in schools and kids drink less milk – and get fewer essential nutrients – if it’s taken away.
The pattern has been consistent. When flavored milk is removed from the lunchroom and only white milk is offered, there has been a dramatic decrease in milk consumption, according to several studies.
- When flavored milk was removed from the cafeteria in a school district in Connecticut, milk decreased in all grades, ranging from 37 percent to 63 percent.