Stephanie has had four children, including a set of twins! She loves to share ideas on raising kids—the good, bad and ugly!
Should Flavored Milk be Banned from Schools?
In the news recently, I have heard about some school districts banning flavored milk (chocolate milk or strawberry milk) from vending machines and hot lunches. The common claim is that there is too much sugar in chocolate milk or other flavored varieties. Some believe that drinking flavored milk leads to childhood obesity or other conditions, including diabetes.
When I first heard this news, my initial thought was, we are "barking up the wrong tree." After all, the USDA just declared pizza sauce as a vegetable! Take a look at the fatty, sugary options offered in school lunches and consider the fact that the vast majority of kids pass up the salad bar and fresh apples in favor of tater tots and hot dogs. These same children often consume many empty calories through drinks - whether juices or soda - either at school, or at home. Doesn't it make sense to encourage children to consume milk, even if there are a few additional grams of sugar and about 20 additional calories per serving when comparing chocolate milk to plain? Given the option to choose chocolate milk, some students may make the choice to consume the only dairy product offered to them all day.
Flavored milk, while containing sugar flavoring, is still a healthy beverage option. Milk is an excellent source of nutrition, filled with calcium, protein and Vitamin A. Yet, when just 10 grams of sugar are added to a standard 1/2 pint serving, some people are now up in arms complaining that chocolate or strawberry milk is not healthy.
Should we Have Flavored Milk in Schools?
Nutrition Information for Milk and Flavored Milk
|Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1/2 pint)||Plain Milk (1% Fat)||Chocolate Milk||Strawberry Milk|
Arguments in Favor of Banning Flavored Milk
Schools are looking to improve menus across the board. Revised recipes have reduced the fat, added fiber, worked in additional vegetables and cut down on sugar.
The logical question is, why not make similar changes to beverage options?
Some experts believe that, by offering only plain milk, students will learn to appreciate the drink without added sugar and calories. With chocolate milk or strawberry milk, you may encourage a sweet tooth to develop or persist. That child may become overweight or obese as a result of consuming too many calories, and not learning to appreciate food and drink that is not sweetened.
Plus, if you want to teach kids about proper nutrition, why would you serve them an otherwise healthy drink that has been altered with the addition of sugar?
Does Flavored Milk Lead to Obesity?
Arguments Against Banning Flavored Milk
It might be obvious that I am on the side of the arguments against banning flavored milk. And some of my reasoning comes from my own experience growing up. We didn't have chocolate milk, but the difference was between instant milk and whole milk (none of that non-fat/1% stuff!). I would drink cups and cups of whole milk flavored with that delicious creamy fat. But when funds were tight and mom switched to instant milk.... ugh! No thanks!
Today's kids have many more beverage options than we did 20-30 years ago. Juice, soda and even Starbucks beverages often end up in the hands of kids 5-18. A healthier, but still tasty option of chocolate milk or other flavored milk encourages children to reach for a beverage that contains important nutrients, including protein that can help keep them satisfied until the next meal. Apple juice, soda or water cannot do that!
In short, the trade off for a few additional grams of sugar and 15-20 extra calories is that our kids will consume dairy - an important element of a good diet - to build strong bones. If we ban flavored milk from school menus, it is quite possible that some children in the school district will simply choose not to drink plain milk, thereby suffering the elimination of a foundational part of a healthy diet.
5th Graders Debate Chocolate MIlk
© 2011 Stephanie Marshall
JACK WILL on March 22, 2020:
sup I like strawbry milk what bout u
Deliris on April 22, 2019:
I don't think that chocolate milk should be served in schools I mean like because of the high sugar. it has more sugar then soda.
Non Ya on February 26, 2019:
We should keep chocolate milk it is acutually good for u
Roberta on June 27, 2012:
I think drinking something at scool is healthy. Many kids forget to eat and drink at scool so it's good to give them milk (or something else).
When i were a kid i didn't like milk very much, but the kids got milk from school, so i drank mine too.
Milk is not very tasty so putting some flavor inside is better than no milk at all. http://www.kochen-lernen.net/
Melissa A Smith from New York on June 20, 2012:
I find it interesting that people are concerned with adding sugar to milk. Milk contains sugar, and it is called lactose, which may people are allergic too. This may actually contribute to weight problems. I think the fuss over adding strawberry syrup, or whatever it is, to milk is trivial.
The biggest issue with food that contributes to illness, hormonal imbalances, and weight problems is the nation's lack of 'real' food. I doubt most kids gorge on flavored milk. Soda, fruit punch, and even commercial brands of ice tea are probably consumed more, adding more refined sugar to the human diet. Flavored milk can be 'healthy'. I have purchased raw milk mixed with strawberry puree in the past. Too bad many states ban or restrict raw milk sales from grass-fed cows. Animal products in general are poor quality unless you spend a lot of money on it, so it certainly won't be found in schools.
Of course no one 'needs' milk but it is an option for those who enjoy it and can tolerate it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the fat content and skim milk is probably worse as the lack of fat makes you consume more of it (that's the situation with myself), and it also removes the beneficial qualities.
MsLofton from IL on June 20, 2012:
I absolutely love love love this hub!! I have actually asked people about this particular topic. I not really a fan of regular milk unless I'm eating cereal but I love chocolate milk! There are a lot of other things that kids eat and drink that have way more sugar! Great Hub.
BlissfulWriter on June 20, 2012:
Flavored milk is not healthy. It got too much sugar. Nevertheless, dairy is not that great for us. If there is anything good about milk, it is the goodness of the fat. This is just a great debate topic that I had to write a whole Hub about the science behind why milk and dairy (especially skim and flavored milk) is not so healthy:
And I tried to provided links to references to authorities for your further investigation.
Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on June 20, 2012:
I loved flavored milk as a kid at school but our options were more limited than they are today. Kids these days have too many other sugary options and that's the cause of obesity, all the sugary options. Banning flavored milk from schools won't make much of a difference to the obesity problem, all added-sugar items should be considered both at home and at school. Congrats on your Hub of the day, well deserved.
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on June 20, 2012:
Love, love all the comments! What an honor to be chosen for HOTD - and in particular, I am thrilled that the debate on this issue will continue. Since writing this hub, I discovered that one of my good friends from college is one of the leading opponents of flavored milk here in our hometown. She is smart and very focused on her kids' health. Its fascinating to hear both sides of the issue. My opinion remains that any milk is better than no milk, and that many of the kids that receive school meals do not eat as well at home.
Thank you to everyone for the comments and to HP for selecting this as HOTD! Best, Steph
Milli from USA on June 20, 2012:
Congrats on HOTD!
Urmila from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA on June 20, 2012:
Drinking flavored milk is not bad. I agree with Olde Cashmere that they should cut back on he sugar. I enjoyed reading the article. Voted up!
Congratulations on Hub of the day award!
Olde Cashmere on June 20, 2012:
This was an interesting topic to write on and you did a great job. I personally have always enjoyed chocolate milk but do have issue with why its so high in sugar. It seems they could naturally flavor it and cut back on the sugar they put in. Parents/guardians need to set good examples for dietary choices and that begins at home. The schools seem to be making smart choices and moving in the right direction with the foods on the menu. Teaching the value of moderation is key for children to understand. Kind of on the fence with this one. Excellent article, voted up, and interesting :)
lovedoctor926 on June 20, 2012:
Excellent hub. You made a very good point. Given the option to choose chocolate milk, this is probably the only dairy product that some of these kids might consume the entire day. I am not in favor of banning chocolate milk in schools. Besides, the milk carton is so small that you can chug that in a second. And plus, with all the energy those kids burn from noontime to dismissal, they do need to eat a nutritious lunch. I understand that child obesity is on the rise, but perhaps these kids are fat because they eat too much junk food and sugary cereals at home and are not getting enough exercise. Second, banning chocolate milk from schools would prevent those kids who don't like white milk from drinking milk. And last but not least, not all children are obese that would mean that the rest of those who are not overweight would have to drink juice or water since schools don't sell soft drinks. Personally, I love chocolate milk and if I was a student and found out they wanted to ban it, I would be pretty upset.
Hui (蕙) on June 20, 2012:
I have another question: the doctor in the video confirmed 35% decrease in calcium when chocolate milk is banned, but the label appears in the opposite way: the amount of calcium in plain milk is about twice higher.
The question is not which one offers more amount of nutrition , because necessary nutrition is not just from milk (many people cannot have milk, which makes them diarrhea), but is whether side effects show up or not. Some studies of some research institutes mean nothing to real life.
Giselle Maine on June 20, 2012:
I think chocolate milk is too sugary (reading the labels there is a huge difference between regular and chocolate milk). My issue with it is not so much the diabetes/obesity situation, but rather the dental health issue. My case hinges upon the notion that unlike at home, in schools it is not always possible (or not easily possible) for each child to go brush teeth every time after lunch. Hence plaque can build up easily and lead to tooth decay, even at a young age.
While I feel that older kids can and should be capable of making their own decisions, I certainly am in favor of banning flavored milk for preschools for the sake of dental health. Or not necessarily 'banning' it outright, but not offering it would be ideal (kids can bring their own flavored milk from home, but kids who purchase school lunch at public preschool should not be offered chocolate milk as an option - just regular milk is fine). At preschool age they really don't know enough of the pros and cons to make an informed choice.
nikinoo from Past Cloud Nine on June 20, 2012:
I agree Peggy W.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 20, 2012:
I'm with you 100% on this one Steph! I can think of many things that should be banned from school lunches way ahead of this! Crazy! Congrats on HOTD. This will surely start some discussions. Up votes and tweeting.
Hui (蕙) on June 20, 2012:
I don't think flavored milk should be banned from school, but I do think plain milk is better. So-called flavored just tries to make it more tasty for some people, but does not mean healthier and necessary, which can be seen from the nutrition form of you. I love things close to nature!
For school students' problems, overweight or diabetes, or something else like that, whether flavored or not doesn't matter, and the matter is how to introduce them a healthy living way in daily life, which includes various aspects, such as the balance between diet, sleep and exercise, and how to schedule time, etc.
Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on June 20, 2012:
Congrats on HOTD - nicely put together article giving both sides, the facts and the breakdown of nutrition. Personally i would prefer to see my child drink flavored milk as against a fizzy drink or even some juices. Quite rightly you point out never mind the drinks at school, what about the food and it's nutritional value.
Vinsanity100 from Michigan on June 20, 2012:
I think that flavored milk is OK as long as it's not doused with sugar. The milk can be good in moderation.
Congrats on the Hub of the Day!
Yvonne Spence from UK on June 20, 2012:
Interesting hub and comments and great to see this as a HOTD, a bit different! Congrats!
The whole issue seems a sad indictment on today's eating habits when sugary milk is better than none. I don't actually think banning has much effect either way, but in the UK (at least at my kids' school) kids can go out of school at lunchtime and eat whatever they want. Most take packed lunches and that's what mine do, but it sounds as if the system is different in the US.
On the subject of calcium, I recently read that although milk contains a lot it's not easily absorbed by the body and one study found that although wholewheat has a lower calcium content more is absorbed.
c1234rystal on June 20, 2012:
I have to disagree with the statement that dairy is a necessary part of a healthy diet. I refused to drink milk as a kid, am above average height for the U.S. and have never had a cavity or a broken bone. That being said, I do think flavored milk should be banned in schools along with vending machines. Kids really need to get used to eating foods without added sugars. Even if they're getting unhealthy foods at home, at least schools could be somewhat of a health zone. And the USDA needs to revoke its statement saying that pizza sauce is a vegetable. I can't understand why schools can't just take the simple approach of providing meals made from simple ingredients while also letting kids get more exercise.
nikinoo from Past Cloud Nine on June 20, 2012:
My view on the subject is that why mess with it at all. At least if there is flavoring in milk kids will drink it. I have three children that like milk either way, unless it is instant and then of course i add flavoring. I mean that stuff is nasty so i wouldn't drink it plain myself why make them. Milk (whether flavored or not) is a heck of a lot healthier than soda and even some of the juices they have now a days. 100% agree to keep flavored milks an option. Great hub!!
Leah Lefler from Western New York on June 20, 2012:
While plain milk is certainly healthier than flavored milk, the flavored options are healthier than soda or dye and corn syrup laden box drinks (many of those drinks are not juice, but "fruit flavored" beverages). I think you can reduce the amount of extra sugar by adding your own chocolate syrup to plain milk - the pre-flavored milks are very sugary, but you can give milk a slight chocolate flavor by adding just a tiny bit of chocolate syrup to the milk. I do find it interesting that the chocolate milk has nearly half the calcium of plain milk. I wonder why that is?
RTalloni on June 20, 2012:
Congrats on your Hub of the Day award--no surprise for a hub that addresses important issues and has prompted interesting discussion!
It is a great thing to have information readily available today. To be able to easily and thoroughly research why some "modern" milks are healthier than others is an amazing chance to get answers. Hubs that bring up questions we should be asking are super motivators to get us going.
Starmom41 on June 20, 2012:
I'm with apatricias on this, despite a small age gap- the so-called experts are doing nothing more than clutching at straws & coming up with the wrong ones. The prob is more people (including kids) graze throughout the day on junk or go without and then binge, rather than eating meals. When I was a child, nobody was afraid of the word 'sugar' on cereal boxes, we fired Hershey syrup into glasses of whole milk, almost every dinner had pie or cake for dessert- and yet we grew up without weight problems. I did the same "3 meals a day" with my own kids, & both of them are healthy and slim.
Andrew from Rep Boston MA on June 20, 2012:
To send in a troll face: plain and diet sodas both have less fat and calories then milk!
I still think flavored milk tastes good and you might as well enjoy what your eating but we all know deep down milk is bad for you anyway.
Logically cows milk is for calves. This magic potion takes a 100 pound calf and SUPERSIZES him or her to x8 the weight in a short amount of time. From there they never drink milk again. It served its purpose so they stopped and eat grass and stuff. We don't stop - we force kids to drink more.
Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on June 20, 2012:
Excellent review of the flavored milk issue.
I stand with mariacolomy and NetBlots. Milk is over-rated because of dairy industry propaganda, and using flavors to get kids to drink more of it causes us to perpetuate the myth that cow's milk is necessary.
With that said, I am in favor of banning flavored milk from schools right along with vending machines. What's next? Getting kids to eat more broccoli by dousing it with sugar-butter sauce?
Voted interesting and useful. :)
Mary Hyatt from Florida on June 20, 2012:
Congrats on your HOTD! This is certainly a Hub for thought. I think I would rather my kids drink choc. milk or another flavored milk, than none at all. Personally, I love chocolate milk!
I voted this UP, and I will share.
Maria Colomy from Nashville, TN on June 20, 2012:
The homogenization process renders the protein in cow's milk nearly useless to the human body, and the skimming process damages it even further. Arguing whether or not adding sugar makes it less healthy seems a bit ridiculous since it's not healthy to consume to begin with. We live in a country that bans raw and whole products, let's start there.
What we should really be focusing on is education in schools. Especially about food and nutrition. There is no other spices that lives on another species milk. We are not baby cows, and our bodies can hardly absorb the calcium from dairy.
When kids are excited about what they're learning they put it into action, and since school lunch already feels like torture, I can understand why these poor kids feel the need to drown themselves in sugar. What we really need to do is redefine "healthy".
kelleyward on June 20, 2012:
Since I have diabetes and I know how difficult life can be with the disease I believe that it would be best to ban sugar filled milk. I don't think milk is nutritional if it's filled with sugar. Sugar feeds cancer, diabetes, and many other diseases. I think kids should be nourished at lunch not filled with sugar. Awesome hub Steph! Congrats on another well deserved HOTD!
Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on June 20, 2012:
What an interesting, well-written hub! I like that you present both sides of the argument. Congrats on a well-deserved HOTD!
2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on June 20, 2012:
If there is a problem, it is with the other things that kids eat and drink.
I was born in the 1950s. My sister and I drank chocolate milk and strawberry milk. I also drank plain mile, but always full fat milk. My mother also bought a pint of real cream every week. You may be surprised that we were both skinny kids, and have never been overweight since.
So what didn't we drink or eat? Soda drinks were a treat -maybe once a week, and in much smaller portions that are served these days. We didn't have fruit juice. On very hot summer days we had a cup or two of Koolaid.
We didn't have candy in the house. School vending machines were unheard of , but sometimes we bought a small quantity of candy in the Dime Store.
Most importantly, we didn't have snacks between meals. When we got home from school we had two cookies and a glass of milk.
I'm tweeting this hub!
myownlife from london on June 20, 2012:
First will children or consumer be ok having it, I mean how does it impact on health, Prime concert should be health, unless it's healthy no matter what ever it is ,
Always put health on the top priority.
chamilj from Sri Lanka on June 20, 2012:
I think flavored milk is OK. Interesting topic.
Kate P from The North Woods, USA on June 20, 2012:
Rated up and interesting.
From a dental hygiene point of view, 31 grams of sugar in a small drink is equivalent to EIGHT teaspoons of sugar--and that's not counting all the sugar in the foods these kids are eating.
While I don't agree with banning pretty much anything, I do believe in promoting health, and that includes dental health. There has been an enormous increase in childhood tooth loss, and it's due to these types of high sugar drinks and processed foods.
Milk is not healthy, and neither really is fruit juice. There is no physical reason to consume 10 sugar cubes in a beverage. It is not healthy, and the risks far outweigh the benefits. That's my $0.02.
NetBlots from Melbourne on June 20, 2012:
Milk in general isn't really all that healthy.
Unless it's unprocessed.
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 05, 2012:
Hi Om Paramapoonya,
That is my opinion, too. With 2 teenagers, I am constantly fighting them from drinking soda pop, or even coffee drinks. I would much prefer they drink chocolate milk if they are looking for a treat. Best, Steph
Om Paramapoonya on January 05, 2012:
Very interesting topic. I think if we teach kids how to eat balanced meals and exercise regularly, a little extra sugar in flavored milk will unlikely harm their health. Flavored milk might not be as healthy as plain milk, but still, it's way more nutritious than soda.
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 02, 2012:
I do hope that this hub will continue the discussion and debate on flavored milk. I am not 100% decided myself, and I hope that nutritionists and pediatricians will weigh in, as well. Thank you for the comment and contribution! Best, Steph
RTalloni on December 30, 2011:
Taking a hard look at all sides of an issue is so important. This hub has generated important comments, as well.
There are issues with common milk products that go beyond whether it is flavored or not, but that's another can of worms.
I was a little surprised at the video comments re HFCS. The jury is still out, but when studies indicate issues such as HFCS possibly creating a resistance to proteins that help us control appetite it's time to give the product an in-depth look before feeding it to children.
Issues like this are complicated, but posts with dialogues like this are helpful. Comments like those from randomcreative and ktrapp really help dissect the issues surrounding the concerns. Good stuff!
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 27, 2011:
Thanks ktrapp, I agree! I encourage my children to drink milk as often as possible, and at our home, chocolate milk (or hot cocoa) is a treat, not a daily offering. We rarely have fruit juices and soda is a very rare treat, but its nice to offer something with nutrients that the kids enjoy. Best to you, Steph
Kristin Trapp from Illinois on December 26, 2011:
I tend to agree that flavored milk is an option that should be offered in schools. Far too many schools sell sodas and overly-sweetened fruit juices. Given the options, I would much prefer my children choose chocolate milk over soda. Even if white milk is an option I know my kids would never get it from a cafeteria, especially since they are used to skim milk at home. Personally, if they are getting enough milk at home, I think water is the best option. My kids mostly brought lunches to school and they mostly included a small water bottle.
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 23, 2011:
Right on, Jackie! Totally agreed. Cheers, Steph
Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on December 23, 2011:
I don't think fats hurt kids like it might older adults and with their bones forming and growing I would think anything beats soft drinks. Sometimes I smell lobbyists around every corner. Great hub.
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 22, 2011:
Thank you Derdriu,
I was hearing about the debate from my kids in schools. Of course, I have my own opinions, so I thought it would be worth writing a hub. Thanks so much. Best to you as always, Steph
Derdriu on December 21, 2011:
Steph, What an intelligent, logical, straightforward summary of the pros and cons of sugary healthy milk in the schools! You do a great job of presenting both sides (even though you own up to being on one vs the other!). In particular, I like the comparative nutritional chart and the videos. You make a great point when you say that sugary healthy milk still is better than none at all.
Thank you for sharing, etc., (always = voted up + all),
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 20, 2011:
Excellent points - milk is such a nutritious beverage, we should be doing everything we can to encourage children to drink it. As a child, I enjoyed flavored milk. Today, only the plain stuff (2% is my favorite). Thanks for your comments! Best, Steph
Hendrika from Pretoria, South Africa on December 19, 2011:
I find all this very interesting. Of course here in South Africa the tuck shops are mostly contracted to private people and they can serve whatever the kinds want. As far as the flavored milk I have my own two cents to add.
I am 60 and when I was in school we had a feeding system where all kids received 250 ml of milk ad one fruit every day. I hated the milk and had to swallow it as fast as possible. Since then I hate milk and I still do not drink any milk or take any milk in my coffee. So from my own perspective you can do more harm than good by trying to force kids to drink plain milk.
My kids had the free choice of flavored or plain milk as they grew up. One is 37 and the other is 41 and they still love there milk and drink a lot of plain milk everyday. So, we can all make our own deductions from that!
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 19, 2011:
Thanks anginwu, you are right that there will always be two sides to the argument! Moderation is key, as always. Cheers, Steph
anglnwu on December 19, 2011:
I think that drinking flavored milk in moderation is ok since it's better to drink milk than soda or vanilla latte, for instance. Good topic of discussion and there will always be two sides to this argument. Thanks for sharing.
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 19, 2011:
Thanks Oceans, and you make a good point - perhaps schools believe that kids cannot properly moderate their consumption of sweetened beverages, whether soda or milk. When I was growing up, chocolate or strawberry milk was a rare treat at my house. We really loved it! But now, the option is constantly available. Appreciate the comment! Best, Steph
Paula from The Midwest, USA on December 19, 2011:
All in moderation, I think its fine. Its like a sweet treat, that is how I look at it. I recall having strawberry milk, and of course chocolate milk. Much better than just soda, as there is milk in it and some calcium. As a standard drink with a meal, probably not though. As a fun treat alternative, I think its great. Thanks for sharing the different views, these things are good to think about.
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 19, 2011:
Yes - 100% agreed! And I almost posed that question in the hub about - don't schools have more important things to worry about than whether to ban chocolate milk? Thanks! Steph
Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on December 19, 2011:
I am of the opinion that it's better for kids to be drinking flavored milk than no milk at all. Compared to many items regularly served in school lunch, flavored milk is still very healthy. I'm also of the opinion that public schools have much bigger problems to worry about that the type of milk that their students consume.
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 19, 2011:
Thanks gryphin and rebecca - good point that it probably depends on the child/person! I am diabetic, so would have to choose plain milk. But as a parent, I believe that my own healthy kids would be more likely to drink milk if chocolate was offered! Best, Steph
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on December 19, 2011:
It probably depends on more than one factor, like how much other sugar is in the diet, etc. My Doctor told me not to touch anything less than 1% but then I tend to have high cholesterol!
gryphin423 from Florida on December 19, 2011:
I say keep the flavored milk! Great hub, thanks!
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 18, 2011:
Thank you - both of you - for commenting! I love the differing opinions on flavored milk, and I personally am hoping to read more on both sides before I make up my mind 100%. Cheers, Steph
Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN USA on December 18, 2011:
I respectfully disagree with Rebecca. The fats in whole milk are good for us. It's the sugar that is the bad guy. Read Good Calories, Bad Calories for the facts. Great hub full of varied content on the topic!
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on December 18, 2011:
I agree that flavored is better than no milk at all...as long as it is low or nonfat. I think the milk fat is the bad guy here. Your Hub was very informative and easy to follow.Voted up and useful