Is chocolate milk a healthful choice for schoolchildren?
Some nutritionists say chocolate milk is a perfectly fine snack for students, one that provides much-needed calcium and vitamins, and is a healthy alternative to sugary juices and sodas. But others say flavored milks, with their added sugars, contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic. Some school districts have tried removing flavored milk from their cafeterias entirely, but studies show that many students simply skip milk altogether when they do not have flavored milk as an option.
Now parents who are concerned about the amount of sugar their children are chugging in school cafeterias may be encouraged by an announcement from the milk industry. Starting in September, chocolate milk will have fewer calories and less sugar.
The eight-ounce cartons of fat-free and low-fat chocolate milk served in schools will have 38 percent less added sugar and just 31 more calories than regular white milk, said the Milk Processor Education Program, or MilkPEP, the industry group that runs the national “Got Milk?” campaign. On average, cartons of flavored milk will contain less than 150 calories and 22 grams of total sugar this year, the group said.
The changes will affect a vast majority of the nation’s school districts. A report by the School Nutrition Association last week found that almost 96 percent of school districts offer students flavored milk, and all but 2 percent offer fat-free milk.