Should low-fat milk be promoted as the only option for kids?

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Should children only be served low-fat, flavored milk?

That’s the question on parents’ minds after two Harvard University professors released their opinion piece on whether three daily servings of low-fat milk, especially flavored milk, are necessary for children.

Published in the latest issue of JAMA Pediatrics, David Ludwig and Walter Willett, known for questioning conventional wisdom according to the Los Angeles Times, challenged the idea of making low-fat milk the only milk option available to children.

The dairy industry fired back at the piece, suggested that milk continues to play a key role in helping children -- and adults -- meet the recommended intakes of critical nutrients. Even when flavored, milk contains nine essential nutrients important for good health.

“Research shows that children who drink flavored milk also drink more milk overall, have better quality diets, do not have higher intakes of added sugar or fat, and are just as likely to be at a healthy weight compared to kids who do not consume flavored milk,” Greg Miller, executive vice president of the National Dairy Council, said.

Without flavored milk, many children might not drink milk at all -- and milk is an important source of nutrients.

“About half the students in the county live around the poverty level. For many, school lunch and breakfast are the main meals of the day,” CNN’s Sanjay Gupta said about the case for flavored milk. “Without milk, local doctors said, kids weren't getting enough vitamin D, vitamin A, calcium, or potassium.”

Milk, whether low-fat or whole, offers health advantages. 

Two studies – one from the University of Gothenburg and another from the University of Virginia School of Medicine – found that toddlers and children who consumed full-fat, whole milk had a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than those who didn’t.

Milk also helps teens maintain a healthy body weight.

Milk has its benefits for adults, too. Benefits from regularly consuming dairy products include treating obesity, fighting osteoporosis, preventing type 2 diabetes, decreasing the risk of stroke and lowering the risk for heart disease. A study released earlier this year found that cheese does more than just taste good – it also decreases the likelihood of developing cavities.

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PA  |  July, 05, 2013 at 08:34 AM

Those that market milk need to defend WHOLE-FLAVORED MILK. As this article noticed, kids that drink whole milk are thinner than those that drink low-fat!!! My kids will not drink the low-fat or skim chocolate milk (chocolate water as they call it) that their school serves. Fortunately, they can get the good stuff at home. Their friends can't because their parents have been scared about milk fat. And we wonder why fluid sales trends are terrible.

Donny Rollin    
California  |  July, 05, 2013 at 09:35 AM

It is discouraging to see children at the super market as young as 5-7 years old and their parents are letting them drink energy drinks and soda. Wow! The habits these kids form now will follow them for the rest of their lives. Maybe they would not have weight problems if they drank whole milk and left the energy drinks/sodas on the shelf. Amazing how God and Milk can be singled out as harmful.

Barcelona - Catalonia  |  July, 05, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Near Mediterranean Sea , we have another thinking ... Whole milk has more fat, yes, but it has a satiety factor that makes less hungry. Finally, whole milk consumers take less calories. That's good!

Batavia, NY  |  July, 05, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Whole milk tastes a lot better than low fat milk. Everyone knows that. The ultimate goal of all of these anti milk kooks is to reduce consumption of milk and shut down animal agriculture. Removing the option for flavored milk in the schools always lowers consumption. Next they will only serve organic milk(which has an awful taste) and reduce consumption to almost zero.

July, 05, 2013 at 01:39 PM

again I say it does no good to put this stuff in emailed articles to us producers. Our dairy council needs to get busy putting good PR for milk in the public eye, where the public is going to see it. What I see is the negative stuff like the Harvard professor coming up where the public is easily going to see it. Nothing positive for milk getting through.

David Avila    
Oakdale, California  |  July, 08, 2013 at 12:13 AM

I have been saying for DECADES, non fat and low fat milk are nothing but the "fat" being skimmed off by the processors to increase their profits!!! We used to through the skim milk away or feed it to the hogs when I was a youngster! Keep the flavor in the milk and we will be a healthier nation.

nys  |  July, 21, 2013 at 05:14 PM

D Avila hit the nail rite on the head.they know that if the public ever caught back on to drinking whole milk,and im talking 3.5bf not the3.25 they sell as whole that they would have alot less by product to keep filling the warehouses with butter.they like to make all the butter and cheese they can because of the built in profit margin called"make allowance"

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