Filed Under: Food Police

Flavored Milk: Public Enemy #1?

In the fight about flavored milk in schools, critics of choco moo-juice argue that it should be banned because it has more sugar than regular white milk. The extra calories in milk makes the food police so emotionally upset, that you’d think their childhood puppy drowned in a freak strawberry milk accident.

As parents around the world know—sometimes a spoonful of sugar makes the nutritionally-advantageous food go down. (There was a song about that, wasn’t there?) Whether it is a dollop of butter on broccoli or some chocolate in milk, kids will eat more of the things that are healthy when they taste better to them. In fact kids choose flavored milk 71 percent of the time at school, and when flavored milk is banned from schools children’s milk consumption declines by 37 percent. School districts with bans have already felt the backlash in the form of irritated parents, and children who throw plain milk in the trash.

So beyond the extra sugar (it’s notable that many breakfast juices also served at schools contain more sugar than flavored milk) what’s the logic behind banning kid-favored flavored milk? One parent that sits on the Bridgeport (CT) Public School’s lunch advisory board, told The News-Times that “she doesn't serve chocolate milk at home and preferred it not be an option at school.” Not exactly a compelling argument.

Another reason flavored milk has been singled out is that some varieties use high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener. Critics mistakenly believe that this corn syrup is “high” in fructose. However, high fructose corn syrup is roughly half glucose and half fructose, which is the same composition as regular old sugar. Regardless of the ubiquitous rumors, high fructose corn syrup and table sugar function nearly identically with respect to weight gain, according to the American Medical Association.

Thanks to protests from parents, public school officials in Fairfax County, VA recently realized they were neglecting students’ nutritional needs as a result of a knee-jerk decision to ban flavored milk and have reinstated chocolate milk as an option. If schools are a place for learning, you’d hope other milk-policing activists would have gotten the picture by now.

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