A study presented at the School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference reveals that eliminating chocolate and other flavored milks from school cafeteria menus resulted in a dramatic drop in milk consumption along with a substantial reduction in nutrients—which are not easy or affordable to replace. The study included nearly 700 measurement days over three months at 58 elementary and secondary schools across the country. When flavored milk was not available, many children chose not to drink milk and missed out on the essential nutrients that milk provides. On days when only white milk was offered in cafeterias, milk consumption dropped an average of 35 percent.
When flavored milk leaves the lunchroom, essential nutrients leave with it. The study results indicate to replace the nutrients lost from the decline in milk consumption:
"When flavored milk was not an option, many children wouldn't take the white milk or if they did, they wouldn't drink it," said Linda Stoll, MPH, executive director of food services at Jeffco Public Schools in Jefferson County, Colo., who participated in study. "The white milk frequently got thrown away."
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This abstract, published in a September supplement to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and scheduled to be presented on October 20 at ADA’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Exhibition, validates the risk associated with eliminating flavored milk in schools.
The study found that removing flavored milk from schools resulted in:
Concerns about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in flavored milk was the reason behind the elimination, but the authors conclude, “The nutritional trade off for the elimination of approximately 60 calories of HFCS is a reduction in foods that deliver important nutrients for the children and adolescents of the school district such as calcium, potassium, and vitamin D, all nutrients encouraged by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines.”