Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Don’t cry over chocolate milk

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I know that I just recently blogged about flavoured milk in schools but I can’t resist commenting on this Masters Thesis on Flavored Milk Consumption in School Systems and its Effect on the BodyThis topic really gets under my skin and it especially annoyed me to see a dietetic maters thesis supporting the dairy industry and their propaganda.

The thesis looked at milk consumption of students in one school who were obligated to have a carton of milk on their trays at lunchtime. On the first day students were offered both white and flavoured (chocolate and strawberry) milks, as was presumably the norm. On the second day they were offered only white milk. The third day was the same as the first. Milk consumption was measured by weighing the milk remaining in the cartons at the end of each meal. It was found that milk consumption was about 9% less on the second day than it was on the first. Thus, it was argued that students were missing out on consuming calcium, and other essential nutrients, as a result of only being offered white milk.

Firstly, we have no idea what the students were consuming throughout the rest of the day. All we have is milk consumption at lunchtime over three days. There is no way we can conclude from this information that students were consuming inadequate calcium when they were only offered white milk. We also can not conclude that they were consuming sufficient calcium when they were offered both flavoured and white milk.

Secondly, of course children are going to choose chocolate milk over white milk when it’s offered. Chocolate milk is far tastier than white milk.

Thirdly, a 9% decrease in milk consumption isn’t really that much. When you think about it, this was after one day. What might happen if children were only offered white milk over a longer period of time? Perhaps their consumption of white milk would increase.

Why is it always argued that children need to have flavoured milk for them to drink it? Should we be sweetening everything to make it more palatable to them? If we never offered them chocolate milk in the first place we wouldn’t have this problem.

 

The paper indicates that many people believe that chocolate milk is contributing to the obesity epidemic and this is why we must stop serving it in schools. Chocolate milk is not single-handedly making children obese. I think the problem is more that we are constantly feeding children products that are filled with added sweeteners, sodium, and flavouring to get them to eat them. This is setting them up for a lifetime of dependence on the food industry trifecta of sugar, salt, and fat. We need to break the cycle. We need to be grown-ups and start deciding what our children eat and drink rather than letting the food industry make that decision for us.


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Aspartame in milk: sweet or bitter drink to swallow?

By now you’ve probably heard about the dairy industry in the US petitioning the FDA to allow them to use artificial (or non-nutritive) sweeteners in flavoured milks. The current legislation will not allow artificially sweetened beverages to be called milk. The dairy industry feels that milk is falling victim to low-cal beverages and in order to remain popular with school children believes that they need to change the added sugar to a low or no-calorie option.

A part of me think “good” we don’t need sugar sweetened milk. We consume far too much sugar as a society anyway. Another part of me is concerned about the dairy industry’s desire to not make the non-nutritive sweetener visible of the front of the label. However, presumably, the ingredients would have to be listed as usual on the packaging. It’s not like the change in sweetener would be hidden from the consumer.

Another part of me thinks that none of these beverages should be available in schools anyway. School kids shouldn’t be given milk sweetened with sugar or non-nutritive sweetener. They also shouldn’t be sold pop, sports drinks, or even juice. Why do we need to teach our kids that beverages can only be enjoyed if they’re sweet?

I think that making milk sweetened with non-nutritive sweeteners is actually a pretty great idea for adults to choose at the grocery store. Yes, personally, I’m not a fan of these sweeteners, but I think that it would be a better option than diet pop for many people. I don’t think that any flavoured milks should be being pushed on children at school.


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Does chocolate milk help improve diet quality for children?

I received an email today inviting me to the Dairy Farmers of Canada 2012 Symposium. I decided to check out the link to see what it was all about. No surprise, the website featured a wealth of propaganda. I was especially intrigued by the tab for Scientific Evidence which included such gems as “Healthy Weight” and “Chocolate Milk and Health”. I’m sure that I could find enough stuff on here to fuel a week’s worth of blog posts, maybe more, if I delved into every statement that they made. That might be a little excessive though. I’d like to draw your attention to their section on “chocolate milk, other flavoured milk, health and diet quality”. According to this section drinking chocolate milk improves the health of children because they get more nutrients, particularly calcium, than children who drink no milk or even regular milk. Apparently it’s okay to give kids sugar-sweetened beverages if they include calcium, protein, and vitamin D. Maybe even better than giving them unsweetened milk because they’ll drink more milk if it’s flavoured. Call me old-fashioned but when I was growing up chocolate milk was not on the menu. Ignoring the fact that milk is not necessary for a healthy diet, why do we need to sweeten milk and add other ingredients as emulsifiers in order to get children to drink it? Even if, as the Dairy Farmers allege, these sweetened beverages are not contributing to obesity, I don’t think encouraging the consumption of sweetened beverages by any age group, but especially by children, is appropriate. Their argument is akin to saying that adding flavour and sugar to any food that contains some nutritional value is a good idea if it will get kids to consume more of it. Just because a beverage contains some nutrients doesn’t mean that it’s a healthy choice.