There really is a war going on against obesity in the United States and now the childhood favorite of so many, the reason for multiple bullying incidents and a huge sugar delivery mechanism may be banned from schools. Will chocolate milk fall by the wayside?

Ann Cooper, director of nutrition services for the Boulder Valley School District in Louisville, Colorado proclaims:

“Chocolate milk is soda in drag. It works as a treat in homes, but it doesn’t belong in schools.”

Some school districts have already banned flavored milk, and now Florida considered a statewide ban in schools. Other districts have sought a middle ground by replacing flavored milks containing high-fructose corn syrup with versions containing sugar, which some see as a more natural sweetener.

On the flip side many, including the 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.

Julie Buric, vice president of marketing for the Milk Processors Education Program says:

“Chocolate milk has been unfairly pegged as one of the causes of obesity.”

Eight ounces of white milk served in Los Angeles public schools contains 14 grams of natural sugar or lactose; fat-free chocolate milk has an extra six grams of sugar for a total of 20 grams, while fat-free strawberry milk has a total of 27 grams, the same as eight ounces of Coca-Cola.

Cow’s milk, the basis for all other dairy products, promotes strong bones by being a very good source of vitamin D and calcium, and a good source of vitamin K–three nutrients essential to bone health. In addition, cow’s milk is a very good source of iodine, a mineral essential for thyroid function; and a very good source of riboflavin and good source of vitamin B12, two B vitamins that are necessary for cardiovascular health and energy production.

Cow’s milk is also a good source of vitamin A, a critical nutrient for immune function, and potassium, a nutrient important for cardiovascular health.

Milk produced by grass fed cows also contains a beneficial fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Researchers who conducted animal studies with CLA found that this fatty acid inhibits several types of cancer in mice. In vitro (test tube) studies indicate this compound kills human skin cancer, colorectal cancer and breast-cancer cells. Other research on CLA suggests that this beneficial fat may also help lower cholesterol and prevent atherosclerosis.

Cow’s milk may be best known as a very good source of calcium. Calcium is widely recognized for its role in maintaining the strength and density of bones. In a process known as bone mineralization, calcium and phosphorus join to form calcium phosphate. Calcium phosphate is a major component of the mineral complex (called hydroxyapatite) that gives structure and strength to bones. A cup of cow’s milk supplies 29.7% of the daily value for calcium along with 23.2% of the DV for phosphorus.

Written by Sy Kraft