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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Flavored milk bans turn sweet health perks sour

Many think they outgrow milk, but milk isn’t just a childhood drink that makes kids “big and strong” or one that can be eliminated from diets when parents stop caring. Schools are a crucial part of educating children in a variety of capacities, specifically their nutrition. But some school districts are working to remove or already have removed chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milks. That’s utterly (get it?) insane.

It’s understandable where anti-milk yoga moms and the nutritionally illiterate are coming from. In many cultures, milk consumption is not considered an everyday activity. It might even be considered outlandish. A growing number of people are also developing lactose intolerance and cannot consume dairy products comfortably. Nordic and people of Northern European descent are more likely to consume milk on account of a genetic predisposition to digest dairy; comparatively, Asian cultures avoid it because they are less able to digest lactose.

The concept of drinking cow lactation is a bit strange, but human babies and children consume breast milk for similar nutritional benefits. Cow milk has similar properties crucial to proper development, and these benefits persist through adulthood. Consumption of milk both raw and pasteurized has been shown to increase immunodefenses and prevent disease. 

With reported benefits such as maintenance and construction of teeth and bone, regulation of heart health, muscle building and weight loss, milk, when it can be, should be consumed by everyone.

Schools, understandably, are under great pressure to increase health standards in the wake of a large increase in the number of cases of childhood obesity. Milk should not be a target in the war on fun foods because it isn’t considered a fun food like Fruit by the Foot or Gushers; like broccoli, milk is reluctantly consumed by most in the pursuit of health.

With a myriad of undeniable benefits, it’s a wonder that so many parents and administrators are advocates against flavored milk in school. Flavored milk has substantially more sugar content than traditional milk whether whole, 2 percent or skim, and that is a point of contention for anti-milk lobbyists. But, flavored milk is still nutritious compared to sugary sports drinks and other cafeteria options.

Milk is no stranger to adversity when it comes to additive flavoring concerns, but the truth is that to consume what is considered healthy for them, kids sometimes need a little push in the form of added sugar.

When over 70 percent of milk consumed in schools is flavored, it should probably be kept around. You don’t get rid of the top selling menu item at a restaurant, so why remove a dietary staple that is helping kids grow big and strong?

One concern surrounding the added sugar content — and the high fat content — in these flavored milks is America’s childhood obesity problem. But for children, high dairy consumption is less troublesome than adult dairy consumption, because lactose intolerance is less likely to have developed. In a recent National Public Radio article, two separate National Center for Biotechnology Information articles were cited in noting that milk consumption in adults leads to reduced central adiposity, risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Building healthy habits early in life could pay off big time when an elderly beer gut settles in.

Additionally, “middle-aged men who consumed high-fat milk, butter and cream were significantly less likely to become obese over a period of 12 years compared with men who never or rarely ate high-fat dairy.”

Milk is good for you, plain and simple. If parents want to lazily evade parenting by taking away flavored milk from other children because they don’t have the fortitude (unlike fortified milk that contains other important nutrients and crucial vitamins) to make their children drink milk, then they can do so in their own homes.

It may sound like I’m sucking up to Big Dairy, but America wouldn’t be the same if kids stopped drinking milk. As a Gawker article states, “Milk consumption peaked around WWII, which WE WON, do the math.”

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Nick Havey is a junior studying physiology and Spanish. Follow him on Twitter.

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