Jeffrey Mills, director of food services for Washington, D.C., Public Schools, recently announced that these schools will no longer serve flavored milk or sugary cereals, starting this fall.
The move will affect the sales of chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milk, as well as sugary cereals such as Apple Jacks, Raisin Bran and chocolate-flavored Little Bite Mini-Wheats.
What's the problem with flavored milk — it's just milk, right? Wrong. Remember that post I wrote a few days ago about all of the hidden sugar
that's in our food today? Well, flavored milks contain nearly as much sugar as Classic Coke or Mountain Dew. The American Heart Association recommends that kids eat less than 6.5 teaspoons or 100 calories from sugar each day. A kid who eats one carton of chocolate milk and one bowl of sugary cereal gets hit with a one-two punch of up to 60 grams of sugar before the first school bell rings. That's the equivalent of 15 teaspoons of sugar — more than a quarter cup.
Low-fat milk typically contains 12 grams of naturally occurring sugar as lactose in an 8-ounce serving. The chocolate-flavored milk in D.C. schools, from Cloverland Dairy, lists 24 grams of sugar. Where does that added sugar come from? You guessed it ... high-fructose corn syrup. Strawberry-flavored milk from Cloverland Dairy contains 28 grams of sugar, or 7 teaspoons.
Flavored milks also costs more than plain milk, but it's no surprise that the dairy industry has fought hard to keep flavored milk in school, fearing that children will drink less milk if it isn't as sweet as sodas and fruits drinks.
So hooray for D.C. schools! Let's hope this is one of those policies that spreads quickly to other schools wanting to improve health and nutrition for their kids.