(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – By age six, most children are already deficient in calcium and vitamin D, and while milk is an ideal way for kids to get the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development, kids don’t always want to drink it. Giving kids the option to choose flavored milk like chocolate or strawberry is a proven way to get them to choose milk more often and drink more of it.
“When schools remove the option of flavored milk, about 37 percent of students don’t choose milk at all, and a lot of milk ends up in the trash,” said Karen Bakies, RD, LD, a dietitian with the American Dairy Association Mideast. “Giving kids choices when it comes to milk consumption is crucial because chocolate and strawberry milk have the same nine essential vitamins and minerals found in white milk.”
Bakies says the small amount of added sugar in flavored milk is well worth the nutritional tradeoff, and though parents should monitor their children’s sugar intake, flavored milk only accounts for about four percent of added sugar in a child’s diet.
“That’s a pretty small amount when you consider that kids who choose other sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda or fruit drinks add about 46 percent more sugar to their diets,” said Bakies.
Because of the nutrition chocolate milk offers, schools aren’t just serving it in their lunchrooms, but also on the sidelines. Bakies says fluid in chocolate milk helps to rehydrate student athletes, while the balance of carbohydrates and protein refuels them and nutrients help them build strong bones and strong bodies.