The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dietetic Association and other groups agree. In fact, these professional organizations believe that flavored milk is a positive trade-off for soft drinks, which are the primary source of added sugars in a child’s diet. Flavored milk accounts for only 3 percent of total added sugars in children’s diets.
“Unflavored milk is lower in sugar than flavored milk. However, given the importance of calcium, vitamin D and other key ingredients in the diet of children and adolescents, flavored milks could be a nice alternative since the contribution of added sugars to the overall diet of young children is minimal,” according to a commentary written by two members of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition.4
Putting Flavored Milk in Perspective
“We should be focused on ways to encourage milk consumption, not implement policies that could backfire,” said pediatric nutritionist Keith Ayoob, Ed.D., RD. “It’s tragic to see the chronically low levels of calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients in young children and teens that could easily be increased if they simply drank more milk.”
Ayoob believes there are several misconceptions about flavored milk. For instance, not all of the sugar you see on the label is “added sugar.” Some of the total grams are naturally-occurring lactose. For instance, a fat free chocolate milk with 143 calories and 24 grams of total sugars, includes only 12 grams of added sugar (or sucrose) per 8-ounce serving. The remaining sugar is the naturally-occurring lactose that’s also found in white milk.
Despite some of the high-profile debates over flavored milk, a recent study of 1,000 moms found that more than half (54 percent) would be opposed to a decision made by their children’s schools or school districts to stop offering chocolate milk.5 Parents say they want their children to learn to make choices for themselves and not have decisions made for them.
The survey found that parents appreciate that the availability of chocolate milk increases milk intake for some children who do not drink white milk.