Rising rates of childhood obesity have created a public health imperative to improve the nutritional profile of food and drinks served in schools, and one beverage that’s been under scrutiny is flavored milk. Leading health authorities agree that despite the added sugar in flavored milk, removing it from schools would cause more harm than good because it’s a good source of nutrients. Flavored milk now comprises about two-thirds of the milk children choose on the school lunch line.
To address misconceptions about flavored milk and increase awareness of its nutrition and health benefits, National Dairy Council (NDC), the nutrition research and education arm of the dairy checkoff, and MilkPEP, representing America’s milk processors, launched a campaign called “Raise Your Hand for Chocolate Milk.”
“It was important to educate parents that flavored milk offers the same essential nutrients as white milk, and children who drink white or flavored milk meet more of their nutrient needs,” said Ann Marie Krautheim, a registered dietitian and senior vice president of nutrition affairs for NDC. “They don’t consume more added sugar or fat, and they are not heavier than those who don’t drink milk.”
The centerpiece of the campaign is a website – www.raiseyourhand4milk.com – with facts and science about flavored milk and a petition for parents to sign to show their support for keeping it in school cafeterias. Video testimonials from celebrity parents and health experts explain why they support flavored milk.
As part of the campaign, NDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association issued a joint media statement noting that they and other leading health and nutrition organizations – including the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Heart Association, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Medical Association and School Nutrition Association – recognize the valuable role that low-fat or fat-free milk, including flavored milk, can play in meeting daily nutrient needs, and helping kids get the daily servings of milk recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
“Raise Your Hand” has drawn considerable attention, with nearly 1,200 stories in the mainstream media and a significant volume of conversation in social media outlets. About 80 percent of the news stories were neutral or positive and 20 percent were critical of the industry’s approach. More than 90 percent of social media conversations were neutral or positive.
The debate over flavored milk in schools is expected to gain momentum in 2010, and the dairy industry will stay on the offensive to keep low-fat and fat-free white and flavored milk on the school lunch line. PD
Should I respond?
Yes. You can help reassure school stakeholders and parents in your community that the added sugar in low-fat chocolate milk is an acceptable trade-off for the nutrients provided.
• Milk provides nutrients essential for good health, and kids drink more when it’s flavored.
• Flavored milk contains the same nine essential nutrients as white milk and is a healthful alternative to soft drinks.
• Drinking low-fat or fat-free white or flavored milk helps kids get the daily servings of dairy recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and supplies three of the five “nutrients of concern” that children do not get enough of – calcium, potassium and magnesium – as well as vitamin D.
• Leading health/nutrition organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dietetic Association, the American Heart Association, the School Nutrition Association and others, support the importance of white/flavored milk as a part of a healthy diet.
• Children who drink white and flavored milk meet more of their nutrient needs; do not consume more added sugar or fat; and are not heavier than those who don’t drink milk.
• Low-fat chocolate milk is the most popular milk choice in schools and a recent study found that kids drink less milk if it’s taken away, which can lead to getting fewer nutrients.
The dairy industry’s flagship initiative to help combat childhood obesity is Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60):
• National Dairy Council, the NFL, the USDA, multiple health organizations and several major corporations have teamed up on Fuel Up to Play 60, a nationwide social marketing program that centers on youth leading youth to eat nutrient-rich foods and get 60 minutes of daily physical activity.
• The program is on track to reach 60,000 schools representing 36.6 million students in the current school year. It has reach in all 32 NFL Club markets and all 50 states.
• Throughout the 2009-10 and subsequent school years, the USDA, the NFL and national and local dairy councils will work together to promote healthier youth behaviors in communities and local school environments.
Raise Your Hand for Chocolate Milk:
American Dietetic Association (ADA) support for flavored milk:
NDC Child Nutrition Health Education Kit:
Flavored Milk in Perspective:
Fuel Up to Play 60: