School Milk Gets a Makeover

By , SparkPeople Blogger
According to a recent report by the National Center for Health Statistics, children are in need of a milk makeover. Although seventy-seven percent of children and adolescents (ages of 2 and 19) are drinking some milk on a daily basis, nearly one-third of them (32 %) report drinking whole milk. Adolescents reported drinking low-fat milk (either one percent or skim) more often, children between the ages of six and eleven tended to select two-percent milk and those between the ages,  of two and five tended to drink whole milk most often. There were race and family income differences in milk selection identified too. Whole milk choices were more prevalent in black and Hispanic homes as well as in those homes with a low poverty income ratio.

With concerns about childhood obesity and after last year's passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, some school districts began removing flavored milks from their cafeterias. Unfortunately, research found that when flavored milk was removed from elementary schools there was a 35 percent drop in milk consumption. Without drinking milk as part of a healthy lunch, it is very difficult for students to meet their daily needs for calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. This is concerning since these nutrients, important for growth and development, were identified to already be limited in children's diets according to the recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans. As part of the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, changes in nutrition requirements for fluid milk served at school were necessary by the start of this school year. Here's what's new in school cafeteria milk.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend children over the age of two receive fat-free or low fat (1%) fluid milk and milk products. Children between the ages of four and eight need the equivalent of 2½ cups of milk. Older children and adolescents between the ages of nine and eighteen need the equivalent of 3 cups of milk each day. Schools are authorized to offer at least two choices of the following options to help students meet these daily recommendations. Schools can offer:
  • Fat free milk
  • Low fat (1%) milk
  • Fat free or low fat lactose reduced milk
  • Fat free or low fat buttermilk
  • Fat free or low fat acidified milk
Any of these options must be pasteurized fluid milk that meets state and local standards and either plain or flavored milk may be offered as long as they meet the variety requirements described above.

The State of School Nutrition 2011 reveals that 98 percent of the school cafeterias nationwide are now offering fat free or low fat (1 percent) milk and 95 percent are offering low-fat flavored milk. This is great since milk provides nine essential nutrients including four (calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin A) that have been identified in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as nutrients of concern for inadequacy. Milk and other dairy options also provide a great source of high quality protein. A variety of health and nutrition organizations from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the American Dietetic Association has shown their support for the inclusion of low fat flavored milks in schools. The milk industry has reformulated their chocolate and strawberry flavored milks to comply with the new school standards. This is a great example that when everyone works together -- children and families win.

What do you think of the new milk changes for schools? Is your family meeting their low fat milk requirements?

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This is an old article, there are many nutritionists and Doctors now believe whole milk is not a bad option, many low fat milks are mixed with flavorings that increase the sugar and with the low or no fat milk the Vitamin D which is a fat soluble vitamin is not absorbed. Report
Having read Weston Price's book, I believe that it is a mistake to remove whole milk from the menu. Milk fat contains important nutrients. When producers remove that fat, they add back in vitamins A and D, but those aren't the only nutrients removed. Taking the fat out of milk is kind of like taking the germ out of whole grains, in a way. Report
My husband and boys work on the family dairy farm and we drink whole milk. My husband likes cream in his coffee and on his morning cereal. I bought 2% milk once and my kids wouldn't drink it. Report
I believe children of all ages should have access to whole milk should they choose to drink it. I personally believe lower fat dairy milk is not natural, increases the sugar content of dairy and does not give children what nature intended for them to have. I agree with a comment up thread that the problem is NOT the fat content of milk, it is kids who are NOT drinking milk and are drinking soda and that sugar is a far worse problem than fat. Lowfat milk is okay if the child or their parent prefers them to have it, but not to offer whole milk to anyone over two is, in my opinion, unsupported by science and not a good idea. I also think it is better for chocolate milk to continue to be offered for children who do not want to drink plain milk and that soy and other alternative milks should be offered.

All opinion, not meant to sound dogmatic. :) Report
This is only one step of many changes that need to be made to school lunches. It's a good one at least. Now if we can just get them to not serve so many breaded products and grease laden pizza with HFCS soaked fruit we will be doing great then! Report
It's not the schools that are making children obese!!! Report
I've always been a milk drinker. It was encouraged. I grew up with whole milk, but when I got older my family switched to 2 percent. When I went to college I switched to skim or fat free, and I still drink either that or 1 percent. I'm glad to say I meet my daily requirement! Report
I think the new milk changes for schools is a good move. I believe that the low-fat or non-fat option will help support good nutrition for all of the school kids. The habit they learn in school will carry them on into adult hood.

My family is not meeting their low fat milk requirements. I know that I do not have dairy prouducts each day. I have started to drink milk when I dine out with my granddaughter hoping to get her to drink more milk. She is very resistant to drinking milk at this time. It used to be it was hard to get her to stop drinking so much milk. Now it is a fight to get her to drink 8 oz at a meal. Once she drinks her milk then she can have juice or water. Report
I also agree with the idea that less fat may mean a larger raise in blood sugar. I would like to see science on it, but it makes sense.
And yes, my 70 year old grandparents drink buttermilk like regular milk, but that's the only people I know!

My only other problem with this choice is that it is a choice made for me. Educate me, empower me, but I don't like you telling me what I can and can't do. I'd rather they focus on taking sugary drinks out of the schools. I'd like my kids to choose between milk and water, not chocolate milk or soda pop. The problem with regulation is that it takes time to catch up to the latest findings. They may find three weeks from now that it is exactly the opposite of what they thought, and it will take much longer than that to undo regulation. Report
Yuck Milk! Report
I wonder if they will ever offer Silk or other soy options? Report
its OK I guess but can anyone REALLY drink buttermilk? I can't get it past my lips without gagging and I have a strong stomach !!! Report
Our family have always been milk drinkers (usually 1%). Now that it's just DH and me, we still have milk with our supper. Now I drink skim, but Paul won't! Report
One of my kids occasionally gets chocolate milk at school, but he's a healthy active boy, so I don't mind. I do wish our district would get rid of the so-called "cookies and cream" milk - that stuff looks and sounds horrid (and tastes nasty, according to kids who have tried it).

I wanted to question the statement below that "1% milk [...] is 99% fat...same for 2% - that is 98% fat." That's just not true. 1% milk means that it is 1% butterfat. What is sold as whole milk has 4%. Even the milk that comes straight from the cow is not 100% butterfat - it is more like 16 to 20% butterfat. I'm not a dairy shill by any means (in fact, I'm lactose intolerant and don't drink liquid milk!) but we should at least be getting the facts straight here. Report
I totally agree with you Sopranomom and Jannbarn! Why should we have sugar OR salt in milk in the first place. Have anyone ever looked at the label on strawberry or chocolate milk. It not only has HFCS but it has salt added as well.
To me, this whole pushing to get kids to drink milk by adding addictive sugars and salts smells a whole lot like a tactic by the dairy association to make increase their profits. Report
"Is your family meeting their low fat milk requirements?"


I do just fine without drinking three cups of some other mammal's milk each and every day. I do enjoy small amounts of milk product, yes, every now and then. But three cups, EVERY day, as a REQUIREMENT? Sorry - that one kind of screams lobbying over science. Many populations drink no liquid milk at all; in fact, they can't digest it. That's why calling this a "requirement" kind of smells. So no, no I do not meet the requirements. I'm doing fine. Report
I've been drinking skim milk since I was a teenager. My kids drank whole milk until age 5, then we switched to 1%, then 2%, then skim, over the course of a couple of years. I think people forget that 1% milk does not mean it is only 1% fat; it means it is 99% fat...same for 2% - that is 98% fat. So switching to those "low-fat" products, while positive changes, are still pretty high in fat. Report
I now drink 2%, which is low enough for me having grown up with full fat straight from the cow raw milk. It is easy to get dairy and full fat milk is not nearly as bad as full- or reduced fat chips, french fries and cafeteria/vending junk they eat at school. Report
I'm more concerned with the sugar in flavored milk than I am with the fat in 2% or whole milk... Report
Will there be a "study", "law", concern that addresses the bovine growth hormone and antibiotics found in the school (and some store) milk? Report
I just read an interesting article about milk. It stated that skim milk was not a good choice because when you removed all of the fat from the milk you were left with too many milk sugars which made your blood sugar levels go up - causing more hunger. It felt that we had moved too much into the low fat is better arena. I have since switched to 1% as that made sense to me.

I am not sure that those making the sweeping nutrition statements are as brilliant as they seem - it seems more like they are riding the tide of what is popular. Report
I don't think full fat milk is the problem here. It is getting children used to sugar and artificial junk in their food. My child will probably be drinking full-fat milk at home and I see no problem with that. We eat healthy and she needs fat in her diet. Report
No mention of added sugars, sweeteners and other flavourings in this post. I think these are the things we really should be worrying about, fat is just a small part of the picture. I know all the flavoured milk I've seen, while it may be low fat, still comes in around 100 calories per 100mls because it is packed with sugar (and other artificial rubbish too).

Of course children prefer this. It is what many of them have become accustomed to. We should be getting them used to other things instead!!

Also, while milk is a good source of calcium and vitamin D it is not the only source. A varied diet is a good thing to encourage. Introducing more things like Greek yogurt and leafy green salads would be a good idea.

In England we don't have a school milk program (not for a long time!) and our calcium/D3 issues are no more severe than those in America. Report
I agree with the poster who says the dairy industry is a snow job, she is 100% correct. Individuals who ingest dairy products eliminate more calcium in their urine and therefore are making themselves "more" calcium deficient. Calcium from plant sources do not get eliminated in the urine. Report
I and my 4 kids drink full fat milk. I prefer they don't drink chocolate milk, which they do at school. At home, it's just plain milk and we go through 9 gallons a week. If they want another drink, it's water. I never buy soda pop, (why do that?), not very often juice.
To each there own.
I'm sure my kids will have all the calcium and Vit. D they need. Report
I'm happy when my son is drinking ANY kind of non-sweetened milk instead of juice or fruit drinks or soda. I have a hard time getting worked up about children drinking whole milk. Report
My youngest used to get whole milk at daycare and after the first day she told me they gave her spoiled milk for lunch because she was used to skim and thought it had to be bad milk. For my family of four we use about 3 gallons a week and my two girls eat yogurt almost every day. Report
Fancy saying children risk not getting enough vitamin D if they don't drink enough milk. As for the poster who commented that the low fat milk causes malabsorption of fat soluable vitamins, that's ill-informed. Miniscule amounts of lipids are required to transport all those vitamins, and even if you didn't eat them, your pancreas secretes enzymes to absorb them. Report
I have my guys drink only 1% or skim milk at home and school. The dairy products I buy are either fat-free or reduced fat. This is my way of making sure they start healthy habits now to last a lifetime. Report
My household switched to Soymilk years ago. We did it then to help my then little one reduce ear infections. Really helped. In the past year I have learned what a complete snow job the dairy industry had done on this country. Milk does NOT do a body good. Animal proteins, including those on milk, make your body LOSE calcium. The countries with the highest rates of milk consumption have the highest rates of osteoporosis; the countries with the lowest rates of dairy drinkers/eaters have the lowest rates of osteoporosis. So how does milk give you strong bones?? It doesn't. And that "milk dies a body good thing" - that is an AD. It's kinda like Mattel telling you you have to have a barbie to grow up properly. Except that the dairy industry has the ear of the FDA and helps write the guidelines saying our kids have to have the stuff they profit from. Report
Milk has always been present in my life and especially during childhood. Building healthy habits starts at home and then is continued within society. Going back to the basics and finding balanced solutions should be the aim. Nothing is perfect and never will be. Report
My 12-yr-old granddaughter is very thin (just as I was at her age). She could use all the whole milk she could drink ... but I suppose 1% milk is okay if it will help with the obesity problem of others. It's impossible to please all the people all of the time, obviously. Report
I think you people forget that there are lactose intolerant children out there. Why is soy or almond milk not a choice in the schools as well? It would beat them drinking soda. Report
When I was growing up, if my school and home had not offered chocolate milk, I would NEVER had drunk ANY milk...I can't stand the taste and smell of milk. Even today, I get my milk in through smoothies and fruit yogurts. Report
Yes, my family meets its requirements. My kids have grown up on fat free milk and that is all they will drink. They think whole milk is too thick and disgusting. Report
This whole flavored milk thing just really irks me. No, it doesn't just irk me. It makes me really angry!
This is so idiotic!!! Okay, here's two options. Either A) give the child the nice low fat milk that is packed full of all that NUTRITIOUS SUGAR and PRESERVATIVES because of course the milk otherwise tastes bland or B) give children whole milk or 2% milk with no sugar. WHICH DO YOU THINK A CHILD WILL TAKE FIRST? It's all part of an agenda. How about this? We feed our wonderful kids, who by the way are the next generation, so they're really important, lots of Soda pop, candy and chips, pizza, nacho chips, because, well,...they'll eat more right!? After all if they eat it all it MUST be good for them? Later, 10 years from now I can imagine someone scratching their head going "Why's everyone so obese? I mean after all we removed the fat, we just added a bit of sugar and some salt so that people would eat or drink more of it" Oh wait, we've been doing that since the NO FAT craze of the eighties. People, look at the history. We removed the natural fat in our foods, added processed junk and our waist lines have only INCREASED. Seems like a no brainer to me!

Oh and the statement about how great this skim milk is? Vitamin K, D, A and calcium are FAT soluble. So what happens when you take the fat out? Well since they are fat soluble they require fat to be present for their full absorption. So next time you drink that nice glass of skim milk just remember it's not really doing a whole lot towards your K, D, Calcium, and A absorbtion.
Yes we are & we have been drinking lowfat milk for over 15 years. Report
I grew up drinking nonfat milk and that's all we buy for our family - and fat free milk is cheaper than whole milk, so that's a bonus.
That being said, the government is focused on the fat content of milk. I don't think that's the real problem. The problem isn't kids who are drinking milk, it's kids who are drinking SODA. Sugar is a far worse problem than fat for this generation. I'm not surprised that the government is behind the times. I'd rather have my child drink lowfat milk, but I'd take whole milk over sugary drinks anyday. Report
I don't have children, but I know that I am not meeting my milk/dairy requirements each day. I will be passing this article along to my mom as she is a teacher. Report
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