New Study Finds Students Drink More Milk When Flavored Milk is an Option

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OREGON - When it comes to ensuring children have proper nutrient intakes at school, keeping flavored milk in schools could make a big difference, according to a new study from PLoS ONE. 

School milk sales were analyzed by Cornell Food and Brand Lab before and after chocolate milk was removed from the cafeterias of 11 Oregon elementary schools.  Researchers found that not only did sales of milk at those schools drop by 10 percent, but that the amount of milk wasted rose by 29 percent.  This amount of waste adds up to a significant loss of potential nutrients for the students.  Also of note is that National School Lunch Program (NSLP) participation also declined by 6.8 percent after the removal of chocolate milk.  This drop could be in reaction to the chocolate milk removal, along with other factors.

The researchers do note that most students drink flavored milks for the taste rather than nutrition, and the removal of flavored milks may not lead to substitution with non-flavored milk.  Previous studies from Dr. Brian Wansink and Dr. David Just suggest that the lack of substitution could potentially be averted by changing the way flavored and non-flavored milk are displayed in the cafeteria. 

Flavored milk contains the same essential nutrients as its non-flavored counterpart, and research suggests that flavored milk drinkers usually have more nutritious diets, and have a lower intake of added sugars than non-milk drinkers.  Offering the choice between flavored and non-flavored could mean that more children obtain those important nutrients.  Reinforcing this idea are the new USDA federal school nutrition standards, which require schools to offer two choices of milk as part of the reimbursable school meal.

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