Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chocolate Milk Debate Misses the Point

I won't repeat all the various links to this big news story now in the States about whether or not chocolate milk should stay on the public school menu.  I won't repeat it because much of it is political and that really isn't the point.

The concern should be what is healthier for those who may drink milk at school.  So let's compare whole milk, 2% milk, 1% milk and skim milk first to see which of these might be healthier then look at what happens when these same milks are made chocolate.  This assumes that you believe that children need milk to begin with.  I don't want to get into that argument because it is a different matter all together.  In order for this article to be of value to you, Sisters and Brothers, you have to assume that milk consumption is a positive for kids in school.  These comparisons are based on 8oz servings sizes.  NOTE:  These are general nutritional information, every brand has added minerals and vitamins, and processes the milk differently so look at the labels themselves.

Whole Milk: 146 Calories, 4.6g Saturated fat, 7.9g Protein, 28% Calcium, 26% Riboflavin, 24% Vitamin D, 22% Phosphorus, 18% Vitamin B12, 13% Selenium, 10% Potassium, and less than 10% for several other vitamins and minerals.  This was one of two options I had in grade school.

2% Milk: 122 Calories, 3.1g Saturated fat, 8.1g Protein, 28% Calcium, 27% Riboflavin, 26% Vitamin D, 23% Phosphorus, 19% Vitamin B12, 9% Selenium, 10% Potassium.  This was one of two options I had in grade school.   In terms of calories, fat, calcium, Vitamin D and protein this is a better choice than Whole Milk I think, at least for me as an adult.

1% Milk:  102 Calories, 1.5g Saturated fat, 8.2g Protein, 29% Calcium, 27% Riboflavin, 32% Vitamin D, 23% Phosphorus, 18% Vitamin B12, 12% Selenium, 10% Potassium.  I didn't see this option until high school.  Now if we compare this to the previous two, unless  you are trying to gain weight or need more saturated fat, this seems superior to me.

Skim Milk:   80 Calories, 0.3g Saturated fat, 8g Protein, 30% Calcium, 25% Vitamin D, but the other nutritional values were very difficult to find, even the source I used for the other varieties didn't list skim milk separate from yogurt even though they are NOT the same at all.  I never saw this option in my public schools but it was what we regularly had at home.  Thus at school I usually didn't get milk because it tasted too rich to me unless it was chocolate because then at least I thought there was a reason it should taste so rich.

Adding Chocolate Adds: Sugars and perhaps some Saturated Fat.  How much honestly depends on what type of milk is being made into chocolate flavor.  NOTE: You want chocolate milk, not chocolate drink or chocolate mix here, simply chocolate milk to do honest comparisons with.  If you recall when I've looked at Dean's Fat Free Chocolate Milk, my current favorite brand these days, what it added was sugars, protein and calories when compared to it's plain cousins.  So if your child normally drank 2% or 1%, a skim milk chocolate version may be healthier for them, it is certainly healthier than the whole milk choice on all levels.

So let's be honest, milk is supposed to be good for you because of the Calcium, the Vitamin D, and the Protein it has.  When we compare all these types of milk and factor in how likely it is that children will drink it, which type comes out ahead?  Frankly that depends on what they get at home.  A child who has whole milk will think that skim tastes like water while one who drinks only flavored  milk thinks plain is too bland.

Ultimately I think this school debate isn't seriously about chocolate or not. It's about over all health concerns and chocolate is only one factor in that.  If you don't want kids to drink skim or 1% milk they are all ready getting fats, calories and sugars.  Instead of trashing chocolate and other flavors, these concerned people need to look at choosing better brands of milk for the school, better percentages of milk, and then choosing enough variety to get kids to drink it.  Chocolate can be a healthy variety if you consider all those other factors.  Healthiest milk in the world will do nothing if kids won't drink it after all.

The majority of my facts in this article came from one source to lessen bias except when I couldn't find a category of milk such as skim or chocolate.  Here is that source: NutritionData.


mavido79 said...

As a child I would only drink chocolate milk and even then it was only at school. Couldn't stand the white stuff we had at home. It wasn't until I was out on my own that I realized what was the difference. Mom bought whole milk which did (and still does) taste really bad to me. The chocolate milk we had at school was 1%. I'm still not a big milk drinker. I prefer to get my calcium and Vitamin D from cheese, yogurt and the occasional ice cream treat. However, there are some foods that milk pairs well with and in that case, I don't mind a glass of 2% or 1% white milk.

TheChocolatePriestess said...

Thank you for sharing that, maviod79.

I see a lot of comments about how kids will just drink what they are offered but they won't, they really won't. If you force them to take the carton, they'll just dump it in the trash -- total waste then. If you force them to drink it, you may only make them dislike it more.

It's all a matter of what you want from milk and if the added sugars, calories and so forth from chocolate outweighs that. I think with 1% and skim varieties it can a be a good choice for many kids.

Maybe these activists need to look at the over all menus too just just chocolate milk. Is white highly refined bread still the norm? How about lower fat cheeses or leaner cuts of meat? I know, I know, it all costs more but if they really care about kids why should cost be the main issue at all?