The intention behind banning chocolate milk from schools was a good one. School officials reasoned that children would consume less sugar and make healthy choices as an alternative. However, the ban had unintended consequences.
Because of the need to combat childhood obesity, school officials and government agencies have started to restrict foods that are considered to be unhealthy and contributing to children’s weight problems. However, a study by Cornell University found that banning chocolate milk had the negative effect of declining milk sales overall, and discarding of white milk.
For the study, published Wednesday in PLoS ONE, researchers took a sample of elementary school students from Oregon and examined what happened when chocolate milk was banned.
“When schools ban chocolate milk, we found it usually backfires. On average, milk sales drop by 10 percent, 29 percent of white milk gets thrown out, and participation in the school lunch program may also decrease,” said Andrew Hanks in a news release. “This is probably not what parents wanted to see.”
Professors David Just and Brian Wansink of the study theorized why this might have happened. “Members of the school district’s PTA were adamantly opposed to offering chocolate milk in the cafeterias, claiming it was as bad as soda,” Hanks said. “While this policy does eliminate the added sugar in chocolate milk, it also introduces a new set of nutritional and economic consequences. Children typically don’t choose foods for health, but rather for taste.”
This was first discussed in 2011 when schools began fighting over the ban on chocolate milk. Seventy-one percent of milk served across the country is flavored, so many people thought this ban was necessary to get school children to start eating right.
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