The statistics of children drinking milk at school may be skimmed by the fact that many kids actually only drink chocolate milk. A new study has found that when chocolate milk is removed from the menu, total milk consumption drops by 41%.
Studies have generally shown that milk is very important for children's health, containing numerous nutrients helpful for growth and development - most notably calcium and vitamin D. Still, milk shouldn't be considered an absolute 'must' for children development; many kids are lactose intolerant and they develop quite fine, but generally, drinking milk is encouraged and considered healthy. It should definitely be available in schools.
Researchers from the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition and the University of Saskatchewan studied the impact of removing chocolate milk from schools. Chocolate milk was removed due to the amount of added sugar - which is unhealthy. However, this study found that when chocolate milk is removed, total milk consumption drops significantly. So drinking milk with sugar is not good, but drinking no milk is also not very good - what's the better option?
Chocolate milk typically has 10 grams of added sugar per 100 mg - quite a big amount. Also, there are generally added fats and flavorings, which again, are not good. But researchers believe that chocolate milk is still a good dietary option, considering the alternative:
"Nutrient modelling revealed chocolate milk is more cost-efficient and convenient at providing nutrients than alternative food/drink combinations", the study writes.
Given children's obvious preference towards chocolate milk, authors suggest that while we should remove as much sugar as possible from the kids' diets, we should implement measures which promote, and not discourage milk consumption in schools.
Journal Reference: Carol Henry, Susan J. Whiting, Theodosia Phillips, Sarah L. Finch, Gordon A. Zello, Hassan Vatanparast. Impact of the removal of chocolate milk from school milk programs for children in Saskatoon, Canada. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 10.1139/apnm-2014-0242