It is recommended that young ones falling into the age category between 2 and 18 years get a certain measure of milk or milk products to meet their daily energy and growth requirements. This prescription is often on the advice of nutritionists, paediatricians, as well as the food pyramid released by the U. S. Department of Agriculture. The popularly suggested dosage is of 3 cups of milk, or six ounces of cheese, or 24 oz. of yogurt. Clearly, parents choose to fulfill the majority of the needs of a child’s growing body with milk as opposed to other dairy products. And as if in obligatory rebellion, most children seem averse to milk, while coming up with the most creative excuses to get away without drinking it.
While some may propose a shift to other sources of calcium, such as those of cheese and yogurt, there is a significant explanation for why parents prefer milk. It is the option of skimmed milk with all the goodness of the original beverage, but without as much fat. To make things easier for both the parties, enter chocolate milk. Children love chocolate, and parents can now whip one up in a jiffy and get them to drink it down without a hassle.
But all is not good in the world of chocolate milk. Recently, school cafeteria menus have come under fire for serving them. This has led to the question of whether or not to drink chocolate milk. The underlying concern is that if it really is a healthy alternative to regular, plain milk. The debate has left the house divided. While some have simply agreed that it is a wonderful way to help children get the wholesome nutrients in milk, others argue that the flavor and sweetening could have negative impacts on the child’s overall health.
Chocolate milk vs. Its alternatives
One of the major points of contention against chocolate milk is its high sugar content. In fact, some experts, including celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, have gone as far as saying that the sugar content of chocolate milk is as high as that of a candy bar! This is perhaps because of the lactose – a naturally occurring sugar, already present in milk. The dispute has its basis in the numerous reports published as a result of research that dismisses sugar as problematic to children’s health. It is said to be addictive, causes weight gains, and even promote cancer cells. It is also known to cause sugar rushes, which cause children to be hyperactive, and adds to the condition of attention deficient hyperactivity disorder as well.
Those on the other side of the fence argue that, several children despise drinking milk and throw tantrums during breakfast and snack time. Giving them chocolate milk makes them more willing to drink it and in the process, receive the wholesome goodness of milk including calcium, protein and vitamin D. They wonder if not ingesting the sugar and calories in chocolate milk is a strong enough opportunity cost to not receiving any of the nutrients in milk! Moreover, they propose that, instead of completely doing away with chocolate milk, it would be a better option to serve milk that has a lower fat content and use sugar that is less processed.
However, the argument continues with the logic that over a long period of time, the numerous cups of chocolate milk with its high sugar and calorie content, could add up and exacerbate the already troublesome health problem of obesity amongst children. Perhaps a sizeable portion of milk could be replaced by more helpings of low-fat yogurt, cheese, and green, leafy vegetables, along with calcium supplements. Protein, in turn, can be sourced from nuts, sprouts, and eggs. These are touted as much healthier alternatives to chocolate-flavoured milk, although milk per se is a healthy beverage.
The bottom line is conversely the fact that, in the absence of milk, children and adolescents are bound to reach for other beverages to go with their meal. More often than not, these choices are soda. Soda contains carbohydrate fizz and even more sugar and calories than chocolate milk, with none of its nutritional properties. Therefore, it is perhaps more advisable that parents ensure that children have chocolate milk that is prepared at home, rather than those available in pre-packaged milk boxes in the cafeteria. The reasoning here is that, when preparing it at home, parents are in control of the amount of chocolate syrup and sugar (or alternative sweeteners) used in its preparation, and are therefore at liberty to keep it within healthy levels.