Pediatricians Dan Slater, Kathy Mitchell and Julie Stepanian from Harvard Vanguard in Watertown conducted two Milk Awareness Day assemblies at the Lowell Elementary School on Wednesday, March 7, 2012. The purpose of the assemblies was to teach children the benefits of drinking plain white milk. The doctors explained that chocolate and strawberry milk contain double the amount of sugar of plain white milk. While flavored milk can be a special treat, consuming too much sugar is bad for kids’ health. When children consume too much sugar, it gets stored in the body as fat. Excess weight and fat can cause health problems for children down the road.
The Massachusetts Public Health Council voted in July 2011 to approve new food guidelines for all public state schools. This new criteria will eliminate chocolate milk as an option in cafeterias, vending machines, or events in school. Enforcement of the new regulations will begin as early as the start of the 2012-13 school year. Lowell Elementary is trying to get a jump start by limiting the amount of sugary snacks and drinks offered at the school.
Students were offered a free carton of low-fat, plain white milk with their lunch as well as a white “MOO” wristband and white milk moustache sticker. Students could also pledge to drink only plain white milk by signing a giant milk carton displayed in the cafeteria. The kids were very attentive, engaged, and enthusiastic about the presentation!
You know kids need calcium, but how much milk should they be drinking to meet that calcium requirement? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:
Milk is a great source of calcium, which helps to build strong bones. In addition to calcium, milk contains eight other essential nutrients and vitamins, including protein, vitamins A, D, and B12, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, niacin, zinc, and magnesium. To read more about the benefits of vitamin D, see Dr. Brittanny Boulanger’s blog post here.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has long recommended whole milk for children up to age 2, because saturated fats are needed for brain development. For kids over the age of 2, it’s best to serve reduced-fat milk (either 1 or 2 percent). If your toddler is overweight, you should speak with your pediatrician about the best choice of milk for your child.