It looks like Quiky the Bunny — Nestle’s Nesquik mascot — may soon be forced into early retirement as public schools across the nation consider banning fat-free chocolate milk from lunchroom cafeterias due to its high sugar content. Schools in the District of Columbia and Berkley, Calif. have already enacted bans, but some nutritionists are critical, arguing flavoring is crucial to get kids to drink milk, which contains essential nutrients including calcium and vitamin D.
Ann Marie Krautheim, the senior vice president for nutrition affairs at the National Dairy Council, tells The New York Times that people need to look at the big picture. “There is a vocal minority that is looking at flavored milk from one sole angle, which is the sugar content. Parents need to consider the total nutrient package.”
ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross agrees. “I think the extra sugar found in chocolate milk is a fair trade-off for the additional calcium and vitamin D, which is so often lacking in kids’ diets these days.”
In fact, about three-quarters of adults and teenagers are deficient in calcium, protein and vitamin D, which prompts ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan to advise that “kids should drink milk! It is a wholesome, nutrient-dense beverage, and if it takes adding some flavor to get school children to drink fat-free milk, then I say go for it!”
ACSH’s Jeff Stier believes there is a solution that can remedy the chocolate milk dilemma for those concerned about additional sugar. “Why don’t school cafeterias just add products such as Nesquick No Sugar Added chocolate powder mix to fat-free milk so that kids can get their valuable nutrients while still enjoying the flavor and taste of chocolate milk without the sugar?”