Myths & Realities
Click to download this Myths and Realities Fact Sheet about flavored milk in the cafeteria.
Myth: Flavored milk isn’t as nutritious as regular milk.
- Chocolate milk contains the same nine essential nutrients as white milk, including vitamin D, calcium and potassium – "nutrients of concern" that most kids fail to get enough of, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- School flavored milk now has 45% less added sugar than just six years ago, and on average, just 122 calories per serving.1
- Flavored milk "counts" as a serving of dairy – and most Americans fall far short of the recommended three servings for kids ages 9 and up.
- Milk drinkers consume more calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and vitamin A than non-milk drinkers.2
Myth: Flavored milk contains a high sugar content, up there with soft drinks.
- Research shows that flavored milk contributes just 3% of added sugars to kids’ diets versus sodas and fruit drinks, which account for close to half of the added sugar and deliver much less, if any nutritional value.3
- Not all of the sugar you see on the label is "added sugar." Some of the total grams are naturally-occurring lactose.
- Dairy companies have worked with schools to reduce the amount of added sugar by an average of 45% in the last six years.1
- The American Academy of Pediatrics, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and other groups agree that flavored milk is a positive trade-off for soft drinks, which are the primary source of added sugars in children’s diets.4
Myth: When flavored milk is removed from schools, kids will drink regular milk. If there’s any dip in consumption, it will rebound.
- A study showed eliminating flavored milk from elementary schools resulted in a dramatic drop in milk consumption (35%), which means many children will miss out on essential nutrients that milk provides.5
- Research suggests milk consumption does not recover over time when flavored milk is removed. In the same study, even 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% less milk compared to when they had flavored milk available every school day.5
Myth: Flavored milk ads too many extra calories to children’s diets and is contributing to the obesity crisis among American children.
- Nearly all (95%) 8-ounce servings of chocolate milk served in schools have 150 calories or less.1
- Children who drink flavored milk don’t have a higher body mass index (BMI) than those who do not drink milk.2
Myth: Once kids drink flavored milk, they no longer drink white milk.
- Drinking flavored milk doesn’t mean kids neglect white milk. It's a small, but significant contributor to kids' milk intake. In fact, flavored milk only makes up 22%-29% of kids' total milk intake.6
Myth: Just offering one nutritious choice is the best way to encourage kids to drink more milk.
- Offering nutritious choices in school – like fat free and lowfat white milk and fat free chocolate milk – helps kids learn food and nutrition lessons and research suggests "choice" helps boost kids' overall intake of nutritious foods. For example, Cornell University researchers found that children ate more carrots when they were offered a choice between carrots or celery, compared to when they only were provided carrots.7
- Four of out five moms (79%) believe kids need healthy choices at school including chocolate milk, according to a recent survey, while three in four (77%) say they think their children should be able to choose which beverage to drink at school.8
1. 2012-2013 School Milk Product Profile, MilkPEP School Channel Survey, conducted by Prime Consulting Group, July, 2013. Reponses were received from processors who collectively serve 63% of all K-12 public schools. The MilkPEP Annual School Channel Survey is a joint project of the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), the National Dairy Council and the School Nutrition Association.
2. Murphy MM, Douglas JS, Johnson RK, Spence LA. Drinking flavored or plain milk is positively associated with nutrient intake and is not associated with adverse effects on weight status in U.S. children and adolescents. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008; 108:631-639.
3. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, NHANES (2003-2006), ages 2-18.
4. Science Supports the Important Role of Milk, Including Flavored Milk, in Children’s Nutrition. November, 2009.
5. Quann E, Adams D. Impact on Milk Consumption and Nutrient Intakes From Eliminating Flavored Milk in Elementary Schools. Nutrition Today. 2013;48:127-134.
6. MilkPEP 2010 Consumption Tracker Q3 2010-Q1 2011. Among stand-along milk drinkers.
7. Conducted by Brian Wansink, PhD of Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition in 2011.
8. 1,000 interviews with moms of kids in grades K through 12 between 30/9/12 and 3/14/12. Conducted by KRC Research.