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Chocolate Milk - Should It Be Off the Lunch Table at School?

Chocolate milk has more calories than soda, nutritionists say, but it's still the choice of up to 85 percent of Plainfield school kids.

Chocolate milk is alive and well in Plainfield schools.

While some school districts around the country are expelling the popular, sugar-laden dairy delight as a bad guy in the battle against childhood obesity, chocolate milk remains the choice of nearly 85 percent of Plainfield school students of all ages, officials say.  

That’s higher than the national figure, which shows that a little more than 70 percent of the milk poured in school cafeterias is flavored, according to the Milk Processor Education Program.

“Students across all grade levels choose chocolate over white milk,” reports Eloise Sopka, who works with Sodexo, Plainfield School District 202’s contracted food provider.

Several school districts, including those in Washington, D.C., and Fairfax County, Va., took chocolate milk off the menu last year. It was a move that sparked both passionate support or opposition from parents, students and nutrition experts.

Because it has more calories than soda, chocolate milk should be an occasional treat, not a diet staple that kids drink with every meal, nutritionists and school officials say. Some schools are offering lower fat and sugar versions of chocolate milk, with limited approval by young consumers.

The pro-milk faction, including the National Daily Council, says chocolate milk helps kids get the calcium they need to build bones and stay healthy. It has set up a “Raise Your Hand for Chocolate Milk” Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/MayfieldDairyFarms?sk=app_4949752878) to fight back.

The chocolate milk served at Plainfield schools is 1 percent, with 160 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and 25 grams of sugar, Sopkas said. The white milk Plainfield students can get with lunch is 2 percent, with 120 calories, 5 grams of fat and 11 grams of sugar.

How do we weigh in on chocolate milk and its role in childhood obesity? Do you want your kids to have chocolate milk with their lunch or would you rather it was off the table? If adding chocolate gets kids to drink milk where they might not otherwise, does that justify a decision to serve it. Is chocolate milk a rare treat or a daily diet staple?

Jim Miller Jr. April 20, 2011 at 10:48 AM
Like anything else in life....moderation.
TOM RYAN April 20, 2011 at 11:34 AM
There are lots of sources of calcium besides chocolate milk.
T April 20, 2011 at 01:29 PM
I drank Chocolate milk when I was in school. I did not get fat.. If it is the only way for kids to drink milk go for it.. The parents should not give the kids all that junk food at home..Also the school should have gym and 2 recesses everyday for the kids .More exercise more burning off the calories. Have the kids stop playing all of those video games when they get home from school jump rope for a hour ,ride your bikes , anything beside sitting doing nothing.This would be better than giving kids pop to drink because it has less calories.
Denise Meehan April 20, 2011 at 03:26 PM
I'm more concerned about the rest of the food served for school lunches. Yes, there are salads and some 'healthier' options, particularly for the older grades, but they are much much, more expensive. Prohibitively expensive for many familes, particularly in these economic times. The 'standard', most affordable lunch, the lunch kids get if their family is receiving vouchers or assistance, is loaded with fat. I'd rather see the french fries and pizza, pop and other junk food removed from schools. Most of these items have neglible or no nutritional content. Better yet, teach your children what is and isn't good for them, feed them properly at home, and make sure they have an active lifestyle. At least that way the one 'bad' meal they have is mitigated by the rest of their diet and lifestyle.
Jill April 20, 2011 at 03:49 PM
When so many of our children are obese, why is chocolate milk and soda even an option for them to get at school. How about regular milk or water?? If there aren't any other choices, they'll drink what is available. Novel concept, I know.
Lori Janiec April 20, 2011 at 10:06 PM
Unfortunately, our society has deferred parenting responsibility to the schools, clubs and other organizations rather than be the bad guy themselves. It's much easier to give in and give up than to stand firm and be A PARENT! I could go on for hours regarding this topic...
Lori Janiec April 20, 2011 at 10:11 PM
Anyone else watch FOOD REVOLUTION? After watching this show, I fear for what my daughter eats at school. I sent a note to her teacher stating she is only allowed water, or white milk for lunch. On days where it's a treat (ie: her birthday) I send a note stating she is allowed to purchase chocolate milk on that day ONLY... On the flip side, however, I've had NOTES sent home regarding what I put in my daughter's lunchbox. One time after Halloween I stuck one fun sized kit kat in her lunch for a treat. I got a note sent home telling me it wasn't allowed. Excuse me, but what I put in MY child's lunch isn't for you to worry about. Seems we'll be going the way of CPS who want to forbid home lunches from coming into the schools all together and only school provided lunches will be allowed. Be afraid, be VERY afraid.
Neil Trisilla April 21, 2011 at 01:20 AM
Woah Woah Woah....Did anyone else notice that white milk has twice the fat content of chocolate milk? Besides, isn't it up to the parents to decide what their child should or shouldn't have? If it ever got to the point where they ever considered seriously taking chocolate milk off the menu, I would hope they put it up to parents to make the final decision.
Lori Janiec April 21, 2011 at 04:00 PM
Yes, because it's 2% and chocolate milk is 1%. Children need a certain amount of milk fat to properly form bones and promote growth. However, the sugars in Chocolate milk promote tooth decay, hyper-activity in some children and then the dreaded sugar crash after. Chocolate milk is a TREAT, not a staple as someone mentioned before.
Peter Leighton April 26, 2011 at 08:27 PM
Stop the debate! There are alternatives to this dilemma. MojoMilk (www.mojomilk.com) for instance, is a healthy chocolate milk mix that contains 60% fewer calories and also delivers 10x more active probiotics than a serving of yogurt. Here is a great tasting chocolate mix that comes in stick packs, so students can add to white milk and viola! But it seems the real issue may come down to corporate interests making money off our kids. Parents need to take action.
Ken Pulliam May 14, 2011 at 03:22 AM
I second T's motion. When they get home, tell them no video games and get out there and roll around an eat some dirt. That will build up their immune system. Stop babying the kids and letting schools do the parenting. Kids need to move around, get boo boo's, eat some dirt and stress their bodies so their bones strengthen and muscles develop. If some some chocolate in their milk gets them to drink it (I never had the choice when I was a kid, straight up whole milk here), let them drink it. Then kid their chubby little but outside until the streetlights come on.
Ken Pulliam May 14, 2011 at 03:22 AM
Ugh... "...kick their chubby little butt outside..."
Denise Williams May 14, 2011 at 04:06 PM
lol - 'until the streetlights come on' - we must be from the same era!
Ken Pulliam May 14, 2011 at 09:49 PM
My Conscience: I did all I could do not to reply to Petey... and I wanted to so bad. Well said!

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