The flavored milk debate is heating up. By now you’ve probably seen the video of Jamie Oliver pouring into a school bus the equivalent of a week’s worth of sugar served to Los Angeles Unified School District students through flavored milk alone. You’ve probably seen the video from “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” where the new LAUSD superintendent announced to Oliver and the whole country that he was going to ask for a ban on chocolate milk (and other flavored milk) throughout the district. 

It’s estimated that 70 percent of the milk kids drink in school is flavored. The majority of it is chocolate flavored. When flavoring is added to milk, so is a lot of sugar. Some flavored milks contain as much sugar as an equivalent amount of Coke. Many schools have banned soft drinks because of their high sugar content, but flavored milks are not only still sold, but they are also encouraged.

Why? Unlike soft drinks, flavored milks contain essential nutrients. According to MSNBC, many respected organizations want flavored milks to stay in schools.

This is what they had to say: School Nutrition Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dietetic Association, American Heart Association, and National Medical Association, argue that the nutritional value of flavored low-fat or skim milk outweighs the harm of added sugar. Milk contains nine essential nutrients including calcium, vitamin D and protein.

These organizations believe that the benefits outweigh the risks of children becoming obese or developing diabetes from a steady diet of one or more flavored milks each day. 

The flavored milk served in my sons’ schools is, according to them, “disgusting.” They say it tastes like plastic so it’s not an issue for us. I send them with a homemade lunch and water to drink most days. I’m all for having chocolate and strawberry milk banned from my school district, but in reality, it wouldn’t affect my family at all.

So I ask you: do you want chocolate and strawberry milk banned from your school district? Why or why not? How about restricting flavored milk to one container a day? (I immediately think of the record-keeping nightmare that would create for overworked and underpaid cafeteria workers, and I half jokingly imagine a black market in the cafeteria for chocolate milk.) Is there a perfect solution? 

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