No chocolate milk? No problem—kids get used to plain milk

July 17, 2017
A UConn Rudd Center study finds that removing flavored milk from school lunch menus is an effective way to reduce children’s consumption of added sugar. Credit: Shutterstock

A new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut has found that most students adjust to drinking plain milk after flavored milk is removed from school lunch menus.

Flavored milk served in the National School Lunch Program contains up to 10 grams of added sugar per serving, which is 40 percent of a child's daily allowance of added sugar. Given the nation's key public health target of limiting in children's diets, has come under scrutiny in the context of nutrition.

The study measured plain milk selection and consumption in the years after flavored milk was removed in two schools. During the first year without flavored milk, 51.5 percent of students selected plain milk. Two years later, 72 percent of students selected plain milk. Both years, selection and consumption of plain milk dropped significantly on days when 100 percent fruit juice was also available.

"The decision to remove flavored milk has both nutritional benefits and potential costs. It is clearly an effective way to lower student intake of added sugars at lunch, and over time, the majority of students will switch to plain milk," said Marlene Schwartz, professor of human development and family studies, director of the UConn Rudd Center, and lead author of the study. "However, there will always be some students who don't like plain milk. The challenge is finding a way to meet their dietary needs by providing other nutrient-rich options at lunch."

The study, published July 14 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, has implications for school nutrition policy and efforts to reduce added sugars in children's diets.

The study was conducted in two elementary (K-8) schools in an urban New England school district during the 2010-2011 and 2012-2013 school years. Researchers assessed the selection and consumption of milk immediately after flavored milk was removed in the 2010-2011 school year, and two years later in the 2012-2013 school year.

The selection and consumption of milk were compared on days when 100 percent fruit juice was offered and not offered. The average number of students in the lunch line when data was collected was 369 in one school, and 391 in the other school.

The study's key findings show:

  • The first school year after flavored milk was removed, 51.5 percent of students selected milk and drank 4 ounces per carton, indicating school-wide per-student consumption of 2.1 ounces.
  • Two years later, 72 percent of students selected milk and drank 3.4 ounces per carton, significantly increasing the school-wide per-student consumption to 2.5 ounces.
  • Older students and boys consumed significantly more milk.
  • The availability of 100 percent fruit juice at lunch was associated with a significant decrease in students selecting milk and lower milk per carton throughout the years of the study.

"On days when schools had 100 percent juice, milk selection dropped considerably," Schwartz said. "To maximize student nutrition, the best combination may be to offer plain and whole fruit every day."

Explore further: Total milk intake dropped by nearly half when chocolate milk removed from School program

More information: Marlene B. Schwartz et al. Student Acceptance of Plain Milk Increases Significantly 2 Years after Flavored Milk Is Removed from School Cafeterias: An Observational Study, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2017.05.021

Related Stories

Total milk intake dropped by nearly half when chocolate milk removed from School program

January 14, 2015
Researchers from the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, University of Saskatchewan measured milk consumption (plain milk and flavoured milk) by children in a sample of Saskatoon elementary schools. This is the first study ...

To lose weight, start with dairy swaps

May 29, 2017
(HealthDay)—Losing weight comes down to simple arithmetic: Eat fewer calories than you burn off.

Sugar-sweetened drinks are not replacing milk in kid's diets

July 18, 2012
National data indicate that milk consumption has declined among children while consumption of sweetened beverages of low nutritional quality has more than doubled. Although this suggests that sugar-sweetened beverages may ...

Recommended for you

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

Higher levels of fluoride in pregnant woman linked to lower intelligence in their children

September 20, 2017
Fluoride in the urine of pregnant women shows a correlation with lower measures of intelligence in their children, according to University of Toronto researchers who conducted the first study of its kind and size to examine ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.