By Dr. Sue Hubbard

Kids Should Drink Milk, Even If It Is Chocolate

The value of calcium and vitamin D in chocolate milk can outweigh the extra calories

I've always been a huge advocate of children drinking milk. From the time "my" babies go from breast or formula to milk at the age of one year, I discuss the need for dairy products to ensure adequate calcium and Vitamin D in a child's diet.

It's easy to have children drink milk when they're toddlers, but as kids get older and decide that they "prefer" water or even juices or soft drinks it may be harder to get them to choose milk. Unfortunately, once a child enters the "real" world through school and sports, they quickly realize there are other beverages available besides milk.

So, what to do?

Well, I think it's preferable to have children and adolescents continue to drink milk, even if it means having chocolate or strawberry milk. There have actually been studies in the pediatric literature that show it's preferable to have a few extra calories from the sweetener in flavored milks than to forgo drinking milk.

It's difficult for a child to meet his/her daily calcium and vitamin requirements without having several glasses of milk a day, as well as other dairy products. When looking at the calorie content for low fat chocolate milk compared to low fat milk, we're only talking about a 30-50 calorie difference per cup (depending on the brand). I know that the calories may be cumulative, but if you take away a sugary cereal in the morning, or that after-school fast food, the calorie difference will never be noticed.

We could also argue that if our children spent more time playing outside rather than on their play stations or computers, the extra calories from chocolate milk wouldn't be a problem. Bottom line, it's all about choices.

Over the years, I've also found that many children want to drink chocolate milk for the short-term and eventually come back to regular white milk. If they continue to drink milk throughout childhood, they're also more likely to drink milk as young adults, which is still an important time for "banking calcium."

The importance of bone health and new studies regarding vitamin D intake continue to outweigh the debate about calories. I really don't think my overweight patients are getting their extra calories from milk, but rather cookies, fast foods and soft drinks. I wish milk was the culprit.

Lastly, I have served chocolate milk at home, but I've been known to dilute it with regular milk.

[ Check Out 5 Nutrition Facts About Milk & Healthy Kids ]

Dr. Sue Hubbard is a nationally known pediatrician and co-host of "The Kid's Doctor" radio show.


Kids Should Drink Milk, Even If It Is Chocolate - Children's Health

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