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360° Perspective: Chocolate Milk

Posted: 9:53 PM, Oct 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-09 00:28:05-04
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360° Perspective

COLORADO SPRINGS — We are going 360 on the chocolate milk debate.

Some schools are pulling it from shelves to help stop the obesity crisis, but is that a spoiled tactic?

Ounce for ounce, white milk and chocolate milk have the same protein, calcium and other key nutrients.

The big difference is in the sugar.

The dairy industry says chocolate milk has the same nine essential nutrients. Jenna Allen, the spokesperson for Dairy Max, which represents Colorado's 120 dairy farms, says the dairy industry has made a conscious effort to cut sugar in chocolate milk served in school by more than half in recent years.

She says it's best to give kids the option. "What we see is that when flavored milk is removed from schools- kids tend to take less milk, they tend to drink less, they tend to waste more milk, and a lot of times they don't participate in the school meal program as much," Allen said.

School District 11 in Colorado Springs only serves chocolate milk on Mondays.

District 20 serves fat free chocolate milk and one percent white milk.

Pueblo D60 does the same, but none for preschoolers.

Denver Public Schools says they tried offering regular milk only, but saw less kids choose milk and more waste.

Nearly all schools in the Denver metro area serve it in a non-fat lower sugar version, except for Boulder Valley Schools which eliminated it altogether.

"We've seen life expectancy go down in this country, and we have to own that - and one of the ways we can do it is decrease the amount of sugar kids are consuming and one of the great ways to do that is in sweetened beverage," Food Services Director Anne Cooper said.

Cooper cut it out eleven years ago and says the majority of Americans don't have a calcium deficiency but we do have an obesity crisis. She says when more than 20 percent of Colorado kids are overweight there is no reason schools should provide more sugar.

Registered dietitian Carly Chason says schools are in a tough spot, "There are a lot of things that go into making those school meals healthy and balanced, accessible for kids, and things they want to eat, so a lot of factors go into what drives those school choices."

Chason works at Children's Hospital Colorado where they also took up the chocolate milk debate, they concluded it's not worth it and don't provide it.

The debate also being heard in sports, chocolate milk considered a recovery drink for kids.

Allison Rieman coordinates the Healthy Kids Running Series in Denver and took the question about chocolate milk to the national organization.

"They said they had to really think about it, they had a good lively discussion on it and came to the consensus that water is probably best but everything in moderation and a little bit of chocolate milk won't hurt," Rieman said.

For the most part kids have access so it's up for the parents to decide.

What do you think about the chocolate milk debate? Does it hurt our kids or not?

Sound off on our Facebook pages KOAA5 and Elizabeth Watts news.

If you have an idea for a future 360° Perspective email 360@koaa.com.