The latest debate raging in school cafeterias: Should kids be allowed to drink chocolate milk, which often has more calories per ounce than Coke? Fairfax County and Washington, DC, schools banned it outright last year, and, shockingly, not everyone was happy. Parents, nutritionists, and, of course, special interest groups lobbied for its return. One popular argument for the sugary beverage? In addition to fat, sweeteners, and calories, it includes calcium and vitamin D—and it's the only way to get some kids to drink milk and, thus, get its essential nutrients, reports the Washington Post.
More than 70% of the milk sold in school cafeterias is flavored, and the milk processors' group claims that if flavored milk is removed, students drink 37% less milk overall. Thanks in part to all the pressure, Fairfax County—which serves 62,000 gallons of chocolate milk a year—will reintroduce it in school cafeterias, but with some changes: less fat, and sucrose instead of high-fructose corn syrup. Those tweaks have appeased some critics, but others argue that a different sweetener doesn't rescue a drink whose calorie content hasn't changed. Says one healthy school lunches advocate: "Trying to get students to consume calcium by drinking chocolate milk is like getting them to eat apples by serving them apple pie."