Study: Don't Ban Chocolate Milk in Schools Because Kids Won't Drink the Unflavored Stuff

The authors of a new study argue that the added sugar in flavored milk is a small price to pay when considering the importance of calcium and vitamin D for childhood development.

If you're a fan of studies that reinforce generally accepted common knowledge, here's one about chocolate milk consumption that's sure to make your day. From MD News Daily:

"Current policies in many schools have led to the removal of flavoured milk because of the amount of added sugar. However, this research shows that when flavoured milk is removed from the school, total milk intake drops by nearly half."

On the surface this research out of the University of Saskatchewan seems like pretty basic. Kids prefer chocolate milk to unflavored milk. If chocolate milk is taken off the menu most children aren't going to suddenly switch their allegiances. Makes sense.

The major underlying problem here, and one that the researchers kept in mind throughout, is that not enough kids are getting the sort of nutritional benefits you get from drinking milk -- notably a steady intake of calcium and vitamin D. For many children, the only time they do drink milk is at school, albeit of the chocolate variety. That means that every healthy dose of vitamin D is delivered with an unhealthy dose of added sugar. The authors of the study argue that an effort to ban chocolate milk in schools would throw the baby out with the bathwater:

"While some schools may limit access to flavoured milk, presumably due to concerns that these beverages may provide unhealthy levels of added sugars and fat, the study showed that a very low number of children are drinking milk in school, the numbers dropped significantly (41%) when flavoured milk was removed.... Given children's preferential intake of chocolate milk further studies into whether children will accept lower sugar formulations need to be investigated. The authors suggest that policies should be in place to promote drinking milk rather than limiting it."

What's your take? Is it worth giving kids an unhealthier version of milk to ensure that they get at least some nutritional value? Is there a way to convince kids to drink unflavored milk? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Read more at MD News Daily

Read the study

Photo credit: Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock

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