Milk Still An Option For Schoolchildren

To the Readers’ Forum:

What we eat and drink has become almost front-page news in recent years. Obesity is causing more and more health-related problems and the quick answer to that is often the elimination of certain foods that may, or may not, be the culprit. Milk is often placed on the list to eliminate from our diets, especially flavored milk. I understand that there are disadvantages to drinking milk, including a relatively high fat content, which has been neutralized with the addition of fat free and low fat products. The latest health kick has been the removal of flavored (chocolate) milk in the school lunch program. Forty-nine elementary schools in California, Illinois and Colorado participated in a study that set out to quantify the impact of removing flavored milk from their lunch program. Milk consumption dropped 37 percent when the flavored milk option was eliminated. The amount of milk sold dropped 26 percent and the amount of milk discarded rose 11.4 percent. the amount of milk discarded, along with other unappetizing items now required in the lunch programs, that are of often discarded, should make us all wonder if we are approaching obesity from the wrong angle.

Many children do not receive milk when eating at home. If families eat out, milk is seldom chosen as the children’s beverage. The reduction or elimination of dairy products from our diet can cause bone density problems as we grow older.

Milk processors have worked very hard to reduce the calorie levels in milk sold to schools. Fat free or low fat milk is still the best option for our school children. Favoring that milk should not be a serious dietary concern if our children are eating a well balanced diet and have plenty of exercise.

Let’s stop blaming flavored milk for our children’s overweight problems. Removing milk from their diets will potentially create more serious health-related problems in their future.

Donald Peterson