Chocolate Milk: Nutritional Powerhouse or Treat?

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, In The News, Mealtime

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Does chocolate milk do a body good? Credit: Jess Driscoll, Flickr

Have your children been nagging you about chocolate milk this week? If so, it might be because the dairy industry has launched a new campaign promoting the health benefits of chocolate milk for school lunches, the latest volley in the battle over children's diets.

The "Raise Your Hand for Chocolate Milk" campaign and are aimed squarely at school lunch as an opportunity to get the nutrition of milk with the added flavor kids love.

Some nutrition experts were not happy to hear about the marketing push. "I am completely furious about this," Meme Roth, a vocal New York City-based nutrition counselor and mother of two school-age children tells ParentDish. "We're serving kids candy for school lunch." The amount of sugar in a half-pint of chocolate milk negated any health benefits from the drinking it, she said.

Cupcakes were banned at some schools in recent years after sweet treats became a target in the wake of rising numbers of obesity and diabetes in children. Is chocolate milk in the same league as cupcakes and candy?

The National Dairy Council contends a slew of experts vouch for flavored milk.

"The American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dietetic Association, American Heart Association, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Medical Association and the School Nutrition Association, recognize the valuable role milk, including flavored milk, can play in helping children meet their daily nutrient needs," according to the group's website.

Adding chocolate to milk, doesn't take away it's essential nutrients, according to the campaign. "Low-fat chocolate milk is the most popular milk choice in schools and kids drink less milk (and get fewer nutrients) if it's taken away," according to an ad in the campaign. The information is based on a study conducted by the National Dairy Council.

Parents have a lot on their plates when it comes to feeding their children and steering them away from certain foods, according to New Jersey-based registered dietitian Felicia Stoler who is a spokesperson for the campaign told ParentDish. "We're really trying to convince consumers there are better foods, nutrient dense foods that are a better choice." Many sports and other flavored drinks offered at schools don't have the protein, vitamins and minerals of milk, she said.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.