There’s an issue going on that I’m not even sure why it’s an issue. Chocolate milk is being banned from some school lunch programs. We know America’s adults are obese, but now that our children are also obese has caused some counties to declare all-out war against the condition. But blame low fat chocolate milk? Come on!
All milk is an excellent source of protein and calcium. A cup of low fat chocolate milk contains about 150-160 calories, 3 grams fat, and 25 grams sugar. Depending on the brand, it may also be fortified with a significant amount of iron and vitamin D. Plain low fat milk contains 110 calories, 3 grams fat, and 12 grams sugar. So, yes, there is more sugar in flavored milk but the potential trade-off is that certain kids may choose milk because it is flavored. "Certain kids" meaning those who wouldn't drink plain milk and might reach for soda instead.
It’s pretty hard to get enough calcium and vitamin D from food. In fact, most adults use supplements to meet those nutrient needs. Those nutrients are even more important in kids and teens because bones are actively growing and storing minerals to make lifelong strong bones. After the mid 20s, the body dramatically slows down in storing those minerals. I say yes to chocolate milk especially if it replaces other beverages filled with sugar but little else. I don’t view chocolate milk as I do chocolate cookies or chocolate candies. I see it like Honey Nut Cheerios or Raisin Bran or Dannon Strawberry Yogurt―healthful food with some added sugar. The nutritional benefits outweigh the small amount of extra calories. Sugar is not a diet evil; it should definitely be limited, but controlled amounts can greatly increase our eating pleasure.
The bottom line is that chocolate milk isn’t a necessity in school lunch programs and I doubt kids’ calcium intakes will drop dramatically without it, but I do believe it can help increase some kids’ overall calcium intakes and may even help satisfy a sweets craving that would otherwise be fulfilled by eating higher calorie chocolate bars and cookies. Hopefully the fight against childhood obesity will focus on more meaningful issues like supporting quality physical education programs and nutrition classes. For more info, click on the links below.