The US Department of Agriculture is considering imposing restrictions on serving flavored milk in school cafeterias due to the high sugar content, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Similar bans on flavored milk have been adopted in some cities, including San Francisco and Washington, DC. New York City Mayor Eric Adams considered a similar ban but opted against it.
The Department of Agriculture’s proposal would overhaul school meal standards and includes the possibility of restricting school cafeterias from serving flavored milk.
Proponents of the restrictions argue that sugary beverages are a leading contributor to childhood obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 20 percent of the country’s children are obese.
A 2021 study found that the leading source of added sugar in school meals is flavored skim milk.
In its proposal, the Department of Agriculture noted that some groups that the department consulted in drafting the proposal are “concerned” about the amount of sugar in foods that are commonly offered at breakfast, including sweetened cereals, muffins, toppings and condiments, and flavored milk.
The restrictions would mainly affect elementary school students. According to the Agriculture Department, the proposed rule would continue to allow serving flavored milk “as a competitive food in high schools.”
However, many school districts and parents argue that giving children the option to drink flavored milk is a way to get them the much-needed health benefits that they would miss if they don’t like regular milk.
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, Urban School Food Alliance executive director Katie Wilson criticized the proposal, arguing that the Agriculture Department is considering taking a product that is widely enjoyed by students and includes “nine essential nutrients” and telling them they will have to “drink plain” milk instead.
“What are they trying to prove,” Wilson added.
A 2018 study found that chocolate milk is better than most sports drinks as a post-exercise recovery beverage.