Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

In Defense of Chocolate Milk

Kids at school drink less milk when denied chocolate milk, a new report says. Duh.

Chocolate-Milk-chocolate-milk-23660987-252-271For a lot of kids, chocolate milk is the milk to drink. The all-white stuff was to pour over cereal for breakfast or use for dipping Oreo cookies.

While the new report focuses on kids in school, the same conclusion holds true for many adults. They wouldn’t think of pouring a glass of 2 percent, skim or nonfat milk, but they would chug down a carton of chocolate milk, especially after a hard workout.

There is something intrinsically soothing about swigging creamy chocolate milk. Except for college years when people’s taste buds take leave and swigging PBR seems sublime, chocolate milk is the drink of choice when it comes to pasteurized pleasure. From kid to coot, that pleasure never really subsides.

Which makes you wonder why anybody wants to force kids – or anyone else – to drink only white milk? It’s all milk. Both have the same nutrients. If people are worried that chocolate milk has more calories, increase recess time, don’t decrease the milk supply.

The Cornell Food and Brand Lab, which conducted the latest chocolate milk study, said its absence from the menu in school cafeterias resulted in “students taking 10 percent less milk, wasting 29 percent more and even stopping eating school meals.”

The study analyzed data from several Oregon elementary schools because Oregon has banned chocolate, strawberry and other flavored milk as a way to fight child obesity. With all due respect to Oregon policymakers, kids don’t get fat drinking chocolate milk. They get fat when they don’t eat a healthy diet and gorge instead on sweets and soda pop.

The long-term health benefits of young children drinking milk, white or chocolate, far outweigh the short-term consequences of a few more calories.

Cornell researchers noted the suggestion to ban flavored milk came from parent-teacher associations. Study authors politely suggested PTAs could exert their energies to better use by identifying ways to encourage kids to drink white milk instead of chocolate milk.

I think that’s good reasoning, but for a different reason than the Cornell researchers. Trying to up-sell white milk to kids will keep PTA members occupied  and out of other mischief. I’m betting if given a chance, many kids will choose chocolate milk. And I would join them if they let me back in third grade.

One of my tangible and unvarnished memories of elementary school was the mid-morning milk break where each kid was given a choice between white or chocolate milk. Some kids didn’t like chocolate milk and drank white milk. Others, like me, looked forward to that sweet carton of chocolate pleasure. As I noted in a previous blog, I cam to associate chocolate milk with studying history. While I’ve stopped drinking milk, I still love to study history.

My wife is a personal trainer and often comes home after a workout or working out her clients and settles down with a satisfying glass of chocolate milk as her recovery drink of choice. Chocolate milk contains twice the protein and carbohydrate content of white milk to refresh tired muscles. Like its white milk sibling, chocolate milk gives the body calcium.

Maybe we should redirect our energies from discouraging chocolate milk and encourage kids to exercise so they can take advantage of its resuscitating qualities. That’s a plan I could support.



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