Eliminating chocolate and other flavored milks from school cafeteria menus resulted in a dramatic drop in milk consumption, according to a new study presented at the School Nutrition Association (SNA) Annual National Conference. The study was conducted by Prime Consulting Group and funded by the Milk Processor Education Program, which in turn is funded by the nation's milk processors.
The study included nearly 700 measurement days over three months at 58 elementary and secondary schools in seven districts across the country that had either eliminated chocolate and other flavored milks, or limited the days they were offered. It found that when flavored milk was not available in school cafeterias, milk consumption dropped an average of 35 percent, and stayed down in schools that were in their second year of eliminating or restricting flavored milks.
All seven school districts studied experienced a decline in milk consumption when flavors were not available. Two districts found that milk consumption dropped by an average of 43 percent when only white milk was offered. In addition, five of the individual schools participating in the study saw consumption drop by more than 50 percent.
The 40 schools that were in their second year of a limited- or no-flavors policy did not see students moving to white milk. On average, students at these schools drank 37 percent less milk compared to when they had flavored milk available every school day.
Overall, nearly 70 percent of the milk children choose to drink in schools is flavored, which some critics charge adds extra sugar and calories to their daily intake even though flavored milk also contains the same nutrients found in regular, low-fat and skim milk.
The study participants monitored the amount of milk selected and measured “plate waste” (the amount of milk thrown away) to calculate the ounces of milk consumed or wasted.