Conn. Governor Malloy Gives Chocolate Milk Stay of Execution

The Connecticut legislature passed a bill that would ban chocolate milk from school lunchrooms, but Governor Dannel Malloy refused to sign it.

As Joshua Rhett Miller wrote for Fox News:

On the matter of lactose legislation – [Malloy] is intolerant.

He was supported by critics who warned that this ban might “change kids’ lunchtime habits for the worse”.

NBC Connecticut reports that the bill has not actually come to the governor’s desk yet, according to Andrew Doba, the governor’s communication officer:

“While we must be extremely mindful of the nutritional value of what’s offered to students, ensuring an appropriate array of options helps to ensure that kids receive the calcium and other nutrients they need.”

The chief nutritionist of Hartford Public Schools thinks that the removal of chocolate milk might influence kids to decrease their overall consumption of milk.

The legislature was intent on lowering the amount of sodium in schoolkids’ beverages as a way to help decrease childhood obesity. However, nutritionists and even the American Heart Association agree that chocolate milk provides calcium, vitamin A, potassium, and other nutrients that outweigh the concerns about the amount of sodium it contains.  Also, generally, chocolate milk is not considered a high-sodium beverage.

“Everyone likes it. The majority of the school wants it, and not many people like regular milk,” seventh-grader Maddy Lanzi said.

In 2010 Virginia’s Fairfax County banned milk for a year,  but it was reinstated,  in its low-fat manifestation.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, sugary drinks are far more related to childhood obesity than those high in sodium:

  • Sugary drinks are a major contributor to the obesity epidemic.
  • The term “soft drink” refers to any beverage with added sugar or other sweetener, and includes soda, fruit punch, lemonade and other “ades,” sweetened powdered drinks, and sports and energy drinks.
  • People who drink sugary beverages do not feel as full as if they had eaten the same calories from solid food, and studies show that people consuming sugary beverages don’t compensate for their high caloric content by eating less food.
  • Fruit juice is not a better option.  Even though it has more nutrients, it contains as much sugar (though from naturally occurring fruit sugars rather than added sugar) and calories as soft drinks.

There are studies that support the efficacy of the addition of chocolate milk to the diet.  When chocolate milk is taken from school lunchrooms, milk consumption by students falls off.  This stat was shared by Heidi Harkopf of the New England Dairy and Food Council and was reported the Hartford Courant.

A couple of other attributes of low-fat chocolate milk:

“Flavored milk is a healthful, nutrient-rich product for schools and wellness policies and is the most popular milk choice among school children,” a 2009 National Dairy Council report reads. “Since most of the flavored milk consumed in schools is low-fat or fat-free, its presence in schools may be helping children transition to consuming lower fat milk.”