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April 14, 2011 | 2 minute read

Chocolate Milk for Kids: Healthy or Not?

Is it a good idea to add sugar to milk to encourage more children to drink it?

Or is chocolate milk just another sugary beverage that will add unnecessary calories to kids’ diets?

If you follow health news at all, you’ve probably noticed this nutrition controversy getting a lot of news coverage. Here’s one story.

Here’s what we know:

Milk contains significant amounts of calcium and is fortified with vitamin D, important for children’s bone development and growth. Milk consumption has decreased significantly in the United States, by about 1/3 since 1968.

Chocolate milk contains added sugars and therefore more calories that can lead to more overweight and obesity. In the United States, 1/3 of children are already overweight and obese and at higher risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Calories in 1 cup milk:

1% white milk = 102

1% chocolate milk = 158

Fat-free chocolate milk = 130

The concern with removing chocolate milk from schools is that children will drink less milk.

What’s the evidence?

I couldn’t find much.

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2006 New York City public schools began switching from whole milk to lowfat and fat free milk. The milk industry warned that student demand for milk would decrease. Although it did initially decrease, by 2009 children actually did drink more milk than in 2006.

According to one study (poster presentation report here) however, removing chocolate milk from schools did lead to a decrease in children choosing milk. This study was funded by the Milk Processor Education Program.

What do you think? Should chocolate milk be served in schools? Or is it adding too many calories and sugar to children’s diets?

19 comments on “Chocolate Milk for Kids: Healthy or Not?

  1. Jennifer Vajda on

    Variety is fun, childhood is fun. Chocolate milk is much healthier than many other choices in the food environment of a school cafeteria. Discrimination comes in many forms and excluding a food because it contains sugar is not going to make childhood obesity go away. Schools have had chocolate milk as a choice since I was a kid (70’s). What we didn’t have was free choice of sausage pizza and nacho chips. A 4-8 oz serving of chocolate milk isn’t going to produce obesity or cancer. Add a plate of nachos with presto cheese sauce though. . . External restrictions can result in oppositional defiance and could lead to increased demands for chocolate milk – do we want to promote equal rights rallies in honor of chocolate milk? I may need to start a “root vegetables deserve some love” campaign, though. Root vegetables may be restricted in the school lunch program. The intent is probably to limit French Fries but it also limits sweet potatoes, parsnips, and rutabagas, when it would make more sense to limit the use of deep fried foods. Potatoes aren’t bad – deep fryers are bad.

    • Bad At Drawing on

      You are absolutely right- fried foods are greasy and disgusting, while there’s nothing wrong with a good carrot or turnip.

  2. Andres Castaneda on

    Jennifer – I think you should investigate this a little further because what you will find is that if a child consumes flavored milk through out the school year, they would have consumed a GALLON of pure sugar. A GALLON? That equals an additional 10,000 calories in the 10 months that they are in school. If you don’t think consuming 10,000 additional calories will lead to obesity, then I’m not sure what will.
    I agree that there are other vises that are more harmful to our kids, but if we can make this small change that has a huge impact in our kids lives, then why not? I also agree that having choices like flavored milk is fun, but that should be for parents to indulge in, but it shouldn’t have a place in schools where we need our kids alert and in their best health.
    There is no silver bullet to the dilemma of obesity and childhood diabetes, but there are things we can change and again this is a small change that can make a major impact!
    Just my two cents.
    Note: You can look up Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution to support my statistics.

  3. Brooklyn on

    And if a child drinks chocolates milk for a year they would of ended up eating a GALLON of pure suger that is to cause diabetes which is very dangerous DONT HAVE CHOCOLATE MILK IN SCHOOL you can live less

  4. sqfswf on

    It doesn’t matter what “healthy” options are offered or how many fruits/vegetables you force kids to take (they still won’t eat them), as long as pizza, chocolate milk, and hamburgers are available on a daily basis that’s all most kids will eat.
    Between the 90s when I was in school, to the Obama reforms, to the current lunches, school lunches have never remotely approached being healthy and have always been made with the cheapest, lowest quality ingredients available.

  5. futhj on

    It is no wonder that some schools are coming to a realization that something in their cafeterias are becoming a major problem. That something is flavored milk. Flavored or chocolate milk should be banned from school cafeterias, for fairly logical reasons. Chocolate milk can prevent students from making the healthier decision. Also, chocolate milk may become a part of the cause of many health issues and obesity from the amount of sugar it contains. That’s why in a lot of school cafeterias, chocolate milk is coming to an end, for good.
    When someone does something over and over again they will probably get it in their muscle memory. For example, when I get up in the morning, I brush and floss. That was a habit I started developing a long time ago, but there are also bad habits. So that’s why it’s for the best when flavored milk is banned from all school cafeterias, because when students go down the lunch line and reach for their choice of milk, most students will choose the unhealthy choice, flavored milk. Students who choose flavored milk over white milk are more likely to have an unhealthy diet, because they would develop a habit for eating food that would taste good, but wouldn’t be healthy. According to an article, Chocolate Milk: More Harmful Than Helpful, “ One tiny carton of chocolate milk has approximately 30 gram of sugar. That is more than a can of soda, and you wouldn’t see schools giving kids Coke.” Also, after having a carton of flavored milk almost everyday at school when they have hot lunch, it is going to affect the way they eat for the rest of their lives because of bad habits caused from little things like chocolate milk that turn out to have a big impact on people’s lives.

  6. Vegavites on

    I love this blog, and great that you have shared these about chocolate milk for kids is healthy or not. I enjoy reading this blog; hope to learn more from your blog in future. Great points!! I love this blog; please keep us updated with such information.

  7. I am a 10 year old doing an Anti Chocolate Milk assignment for writing. on

    This very helpful and I might send you my essay for my Anti Chocolate Milk assignment. Thanks! 😀

  8. Rex on

    Yes I’m in 5th grade and my grade level is writing about if chocolate milk should be banned in school cafeterias or not. This article was very helpful.

  9. Emma Stratton on

    I am in 5th grade doing a chocolate milk assignment but I think you need to put more information. If it helps, maybe search for the proximity of sugar in chocolate and regular white milk. Without a lot of evidence it makes a weak argument but overall thanks for some info!


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