Crying over chocolate milk: L.A. schools ban of flavored milk would accomplish nothing

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The nation’s second largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, may ban chocolate- and strawberry-milk from school menus next year in response to activists, as well as to Food Revolution TV host Jamie Oliver, all of whom consider flavored milk a significant contributor to the obesity epidemic. In response, leading health organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dietetic Association and the American Heart Association, made joint statements pointing to studies showing that kids who drink low-fat, flavored milk meet more of their nutrient needs and are not heavier than non-milk drinkers. By contrast, Ann Cooper, director of nutrition services for Colorado’s Boulder Valley School District, goes so far as to call chocolate milk “soda in drag,” adding that, “It works as a treat in homes, but it doesn’t belong in schools...We’ve taught taught them [children] to drink chocolate milk, so we can unteach them that.”

ACSH’s Jody Manley is amazed that anyone could believe that banning flavored milk will put even a dent in the childhood obesity problem. “This is clearly a politically-correct attempt to try to show parents that the school is making an effort to reduce obesity,” she observes. ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross agrees. “In fact,” he says, “this ban would actually be counterproductive to public health because many kids will refuse to drink milk altogether if they aren’t given the choice of flavored milk. Meanwhile, milk has a number of beneficial nutrients, and consumption of low- and non-fat flavored milk options cannot possibly be contributing significantly to childhood obesity. This proposal is replete with unscientific and useless politically-based formulae for countering obesity.”

ACSH’s Dr. Josh Bloom groans at the news. “Perhaps the most nonsensical part of this whole fiasco comes to us courtesy of school officials in Fairfax County, Virginia. They banned chocolate milk in schools, but then brought it back when its dairy provider substituted beet sugar for high-fructose corn syrup (a.k.a. corn sugar), as if your body can tell the difference! This is a rare, but unequivocal example of Olympic-class ignorance.”