("A glass of chocolate milk." is a wikipedia image)
In the ongoing debate about providing healthy meals to youngsters, many schools are looking at milk beverages, weighing the pros and cons of providing flavored milk to young people. Milk provides essential nutrients that children need to develop strong bones including calcium and vitamin D. Nonetheless, some people fear that the high sugar content of flavored milk contributes to childhood obesity and want to ban flavored milk from public school cafeterias.
Most flavored milk does have more sugar than the non flavored variety, but it has more nutrients than a can of soda pop or fruit flavored drink. If the children are anything like they were when I was a child, most of them are probably choosing chocolate milk. If schools ban flavored milk, children may stop drinking milk altogether leading to health problems down the road.
Rather than ban flavored milk, schools should look at another option: informed choice. Many schools already offer flavored and non flavored milk to students. School officials should allow the children to choose between low fat flavored milk or non flavored milk. Teachers would then educate students about the differences between flavored and non flavored milk pointing out that sugar can lead to weight gain.
Teachers could also teach the children about moderation, and school officials could limit the amount of milk products that each student would be allowed to consume. This would be the wisest solution to the problem.
In my article about anti-obesity billboards I wrote that decisions about the best interests of children are best left to adults. I stand by that. By giving students a choice between two healthy beverages school officials will be providing two important benefits: nutrition education and facilitation of decision-making, lessons that the students will take with them for the rest of their lives.
What do you think? Should schools ban flavored milk? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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"Schools may ban chocolate milk over added sugar" - Yahoo Health. http://health.yahoo.net/news/s/ap/us_food_and_farm_chocolate_milk
"Chocolate Milk: Your Days Are Numbered - Schools Consider Banning Milk From the Menu" copyright 2011 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.