Volume 82, Number 4 July/August 2011
Despite the science and health professional support for flavored milk as a healthy choice for children, there continues to be pressure on some school districts to eliminate or restrict flavored milk from school meals. It therefore is important to educate parents, school administrators, and others on the positive role of flavored milk in child nutrition and encourage them to actively support low-fat and fat-free flavored milk choices in schools.
Parents, for example, can help ensure that flavored milk continues to be an option for children in school meals. Recent marketing research shows that the majority of parents oppose bans on chocolate milk in schools (47). In expressing opposition to school bans on flavored milk, parents say they want their children to learn to make choices for themselves and not have decisions made for them, and they want schools to focus on more important issues such as the quality of education (47). Parents also appreciate that the availability of chocolate milk increases milk intake for some children who do not drink white milk. In addition, parents realize that obesity is caused by many factors, including lack of exercise (47). While most parents oppose flavored milk bans, few proactively advocate for keeping flavored milk in their schools (48). Statements relating to how flavored milk balances nutrition and fun and gives children choices resonates with parents, and can help encourage them to become actively involved in keeping flavored milk in school meals as a choice for children (48).
Parents, as well as others who work with or care about children, can model healthful behaviors and increase the availability of nutrient-dense foods including low-fat and fat-free milk (white and flavored) (49-51). According to a study of 2,314 children in grades one through 12, home is where the largest proportion of total energy and energy from low-nutrient, energy-dense foods, especially sugar-sweetened beverages, is consumed (51). Therefore, family eating practices at home and away from home, as well as foods offered in the school environment, are important in addressing childhood overweight and obesity and meeting children’s nutrient needs (51). At home for example, parents can offer children nutrient-dense, low-fat or fat-free flavored milk as a snack instead of energy-dense, nutrient-poor beverages such as soda or fruit drinks. With all the nutrients of white milk, and only a 60 calorie or less difference, low-fat or fat-free chocolate milk offered at home, away from home, or at school is a choice children love and that also gives them the nutrients their bodies need.
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