Is Chocolate Milk a Healthy Option for Children?

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • Milk consumption in the US has fallen.  In fact, by the time kids are in middle school, they have replaced cups of milk with cans of soda.  In an effort to get kids to drink milk, school lunchrooms now offer soy milk, rice milk, lactaid milk and .......chocolate milk.  The chocolate milk version, though, seems to inspire great friction among parents, school administrators and lunch program coordinators and even nutritionists and health experts.  If it gets a kid drinking milk, is chocolate milk a good food??

     

    Even low far chocolate milk has added sugar and can contain twice as much sugar as plain low fat milk.  The added sugar is high fructose corn syrup, which parents and experts have focused on as a "remove from the diet" mission.  As kids have gone back to school this year, some school have gone all white, as in only offering plain low fat milk.  Other schools have remained adamant that having chocolate milk on the lunch menu is the only way to get kids to drink this high calcium - vitamin D fortified drink.  Milk processors began a campaign spending $500,000 to "keep flavored milk from dropping out of school."  But some parents are adamant that a serving of milk (chocolate) that has 5 teaspoons of added sugar is just not part of a daily balanced diet. 

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    Complicating the issue is the fact that in order to get government reimbursements, school lunch programs have to adhere to certain nutrition protocols and kids have to select at least a protein, green, fruit, grain and milk to meet federal guidelines.  Some parents feel that getting milk into their children requires a creative approach, and chocolate milk is ready-made available and preferable to other food vices.  From my perspective I'd rather try to get kids drinking cold, refreshing 1% or skim milk from age 1 and add a bit of dark chocolate syrup (1 teaspoon) if necessary.  That way you control the amount of sugar and chocolate being added.  And if kids were allowed to "pump the teaspoon" into their milk, I wager that they'd enjoy the lighter flavored milk!!

Published On: January 05, 2010