IF YOU WATCHEDÂ JAMIE OLIVER’S FOOD REVOLUTION, you know one of his biggest beefs with school lunches is the flavored milk. Chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla milks have as much sugar as the same amount of soda.
Jamie was told that if only plain milk is offered, kids wonâ€™t drink it and theyâ€™ll lose out on calcium. He was also told that the school is required to offer various flavors of milk. I havenâ€™t yet been able to find that little gem on the USDA web site (if I do, youâ€™ll be the first to know), but I did find a document (pdf)Â stating reimbursable school lunches must offer milk â€œin a variety of fat contents.â€ The milk can be regular, flavored, or lactose-free. Is it possible the school Jamie visited misinterpreted this regulation?
Iâ€™m not sure. But I am sure kids shouldnâ€™t be consuming that much sugar in one drink every day â€“ twice a day if the child eats breakfast at school (not to mention any other juice, soda, or energy drinks consumed.)
Hereâ€™s a look at the sugar content in some common flavored milks, juices, and sodas (all 8 ounce servings).
|Plain Milk 1% Lowfat||12g|
|Horizon Organic Milk Reduced Fat Chocolate||27g|
|Nestle Nesquik Milk Chocolate Lowfat||30g|
|Nestle NesQuik Milk Strawberry||31g|
|Organic Valley Chocolate Lowfat Milk||25g|
|Hershey’s 2% Chocolate Milk||29g|
|A & W Root Beer||31g|
|Capri Sun Juice Drink Red Berry||21 g|
|Apple & Eve 100% Juice Apple||22g|
ALL THE FLAVORED MILKS CONTAIN carrageenan (a seaweed additive which increases viscosity) and added salt. The NesQuik has high fructose corn syrup and sugar, as well as dyes and a slew of other additives. Plain milk is just milk with vitamin A and D added.
The juices not only have very high sugar content but most of the vitamins are added, not the natural vitamins as you would get eating a piece of fruit.
WILL KIDS STOP DRINKING MILK if they canâ€™t get chocolate or strawberry? Maybe at first. But if the only options are plain milk or water, kids will choose one of the two because theyâ€™re be thirsty.
As parents and educators, we are responsible for making sure kids eat healthy. Of course a child will select the sugary option if given the choice. But just as we wouldnâ€™t let our kids choose cake for dinner every night just because it has eggs in it, we shouldnâ€™t allow them to drink liquid sugar just because it has calcium in it.
I used to feel okay about letting my kids have Horizon flavored milk once in a while. I thought because the label said â€œorganicâ€, the product inside was healthy. I forgot to take the time to read the ingredients. Iâ€™ll still let my kids have flavored milk occasionally, but I donâ€™t feel okay about it any more. Which is good, because Iâ€™ll treat it like any other treat instead of like milk.
The bottom line: Kids donâ€™t need extra sugar, salt, and other stuff. If you have no other option but soda, flavored milk, or juice, choose flavored milk or juice. But the best thing to do is give kids only milk or water. Save the juice and flavored milk for special occasions.