Monday, April 25, 2011
Chocolate Milk Makeovers
Whether it’s chocolate milk on a school lunch menu or fruit flavored yogurt eaten during a coffee break, there’s something you might not know about the grams of sugar listed on the Nutrition Facts label of dairy products. The total number of grams includes the amount of the naturally occurring milk sugar called lactose. (By the way, the “-ose” ending on words in the nutrition world let’s you know this compound is a type of sugar such as lactose, sucrose, glucose or fructose.)
For instance, when you see that an 8 ounce glass of chocolate milk contains 27 grams of total sugar consider that 12 grams of this comes from the naturally occurring milk sugar lactose; leaving 15 grams or about 60 calories worth from sucrose added to sweeten the milk. The problem is that the Nutrition Facts label doesn’t require “added sugars” be revealed separately. The same goes for fruit flavored yogurts; the sugar content listed is a total of added sugars from the fruit preserves and the lactose in the milk used to make the yogurt.
Chocolate Milk Makeovers
Because of concerns about consumption of sugar, “We do get parents who say get rid of flavored milk” says registered dietitian Marilyn Yon, Compliance Specialist with Georgia’s School Nutrition Program, “but we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Yon shares nutrition research with parents that shows compared to kids who drink plain milk, children who drink flavored milk consume more milk overall and fewer soft drinks and sweetened fruit drinks. They also get more calcium, vitamin D and potassium.”
Nationwide, chocolate milk producers today are working to lower the amount of added sugars as well as introducing fat free versions to lower calories and improve the overall nutrition profile of chocolate milk, especially for school food service. California milk processors make fat-free chocolate milk for schools with only 10 grams of added sugars per cup. Yon says Georgia will introduce the slimmed down, lower sugar recipe for flavored milks starting in August for the next school year, “We’re previewing a new flavored milk made by Mayfield Dairy that is fat free and the sugar content has been lowered from 25 grams to 22 grams with 10 grams of added sugars. We’re hoping other smaller milk providers will follow statewide.”
But, will kids drink it? Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., Professor of Nutrition at the University of Vermont and member of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Science Board, tested children’s acceptance of lower-calorie flavored milks. Johnson shares, “We measured children’s actual consumption of traditional flavored milk and compared it with children consuming lower-calorie flavored milk and found there was no difference in how much milk the kids drank. The children in our study accepted the “healthier” milk.”
The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity detailed 70 recommendations to eradicate childhood obesity within the next two generations. One of them aimed at food service providers advises “Be Creative. Host a kids’ tasting event … and let kids guide you in developing new items that are tasty and appealing.” I bet they’ll choose the chocolate milk, even if it is lower in fat and sugar.