Food activists are once again trying to justify a nationwide ban on a beverage beloved by children and adults alike: chocolate milk. Both nutritious and delicious, chocolate milk is taking a bum rap for a crime it hasn’t committed.
Despite the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s warning that “kids are not drinking enough milk," anti-obesity crusaders say chocolate milk is part of America’s girth problem. One pediatrician and author even reasons that if kids won’t drink plain milk, giving them calcium and Vitamin D in pill “supplements” is better than resorting to chocolate milk.
Public health officials and doctors have yet to establish a conclusive link between chocolate milk consumption and childhood obesity. But we’re not surprised to see food cops pretending otherwise.
What chocolate milk in schools does is to tell kids by example that they don't have to drink milk unless it is sweet, that foods aren't good unless they are sweet, and that schools think flavored milks are good for kids. Think of chocolate milk as candy or a dessert, and you get an idea of what the problem might be.
Some parents and anti-obesity activists recently aligned themselves with British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver in an effort to get chocolate milk banned in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). All they needed to do was show LAUSD officials enough “parental support” to begin a conversation about prohibiting the sale of chocolate milk to the district’s 672,000 students.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “About 50 parents and activists” showed up to LAUSD headquarters and left sugar-filled milk jugs for district officials in protest the extra calories sugar adds to chocolate milk. (They forgot to mention that chocolate skim milk has the same number of calories as 2-percent white milk.)
The activists’ biggest stumbling block, of course, is that kids like chocolate milk. According to The New York Times, 71 percent of the milk served in the U.S. is flavored. And bans on flavored milk in other school jurisdictions are already reaping the consequences of restricting something that’s in high demand.
Will we soon see bootleg chocolate syrup smuggled in backpacks and lunch bags? Does Marion Nestle know the words to “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down”? A little bit of sweetness is certainly better than forcing food activists’ prescriptions down our children’s gullets.