How often do your kids drink milk? As a dietitian and farmer, I can tell you that milk provides essential vitamins and other nutrients that are important for people of all ages, including kids, to support a solid foundation for growth, development, and overall wellness. A great way to get kids more excited about drinking milk is to consider offering more variety in their milk options. This might include offering your child chocolate, strawberry, or other flavors of milk. You might be surprised by how much more milk they drink when offered some flavor options. After all, food is only healthy if we eat it, right?
The fact is that all milk-whether reduced-fat, low-fat, fat-free or flavored–provides exactly the same nine essential nutrients for growing youngsters–including calcium, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, protein, Vitamin A, D, and B12, riboflavin, and niacin, and tastes great. The amount of added sugar in flavored milk is estimated to be roughly 4% of the average child and adolescent’s daily diet, which is significantly less than what is contributed by sugar sweetened beverages such as soda and fruit drinks. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) now allows the nation’s schools to offer low-fat (1%) flavored milk in their school meal programs as an additional option to help ensure children are meeting their daily nutrient needs.
A recent National Dairy Council survey of schools in eight states showed that availability of low-fat 1% flavored milk increased the amount of milk students consumed, and that 73% of the students liked 1% flavored milk better than white milk. The bottom line is that kids love options- and flavored milk, including 1% chocolate milk, is appealing to kids so they will be more likely to drink it and receive the benefits that milk provides. So, consider offering a variety of milk flavor options to your kids at meals and snacks and feel confident that your child will benefit from milk’s powerhouse of nutrients as the foundation for a growing body and mind.
As a mother, farmer and a Registered Dietitian, here’s my thought: Any options that make milk more appealing to kids will make it more likely they’ll drink their milk to the last drop–and ensure they get their recommended daily servings of dairy-delivered nutrients.
So, feel free to serve your kids chocolate milk.