SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco school officials have deemed chocolate milk too sugary for students, and they’re now phasing it out of district cafeterias.
The San Francisco Unified School District’s board of education voted to add chocolate milk to a long list of banned food items in the city’s schools starting in elementary and middle schools this fall. School officials will impose the chocolate milk ban on high school students in the spring, the Associated Press reports.
The change follows the district’s ongoing war on sugar that has already resulted in bans on candy, soda and other sugary drinks, and is designed to cut down on calories students consume at school.
Nutrition experts told the San Francisco Chronicle that chocolate milk contains about 35 more calories and 10 grams of sugar more per carton than regular white milk, which translates to about 40 percent of students’ recommended daily sugar intake.
“If that’s their one sort of sweet treat, then that’s fine,” Marlene Schwartz, director of the University of Connecticut Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, told the news site. “I think the reason flavored milk has gotten attacked is that it’s a waste of that sugar.”
District officials opted to ban chocolate milk after testing the move at five schools last school year. At two of the schools, students consumed the same amount of milk as before, while students at three of the schools consumed less.
“The kids grumbled about it for a couple of days,” but most simply switched to white milk, Student Nutrition Services director Libby Albert told the Chronicle.
Those results seem to conflict with pilot studies in other California school districts.
The Los Angeles Unified School District banned chocolate milk in 2011 citing the same argument against added sugar, but is now repealing the ban after a pilot study at 21 schools last year showed students drink more milk if it’s of the chocolate variety.
According to the Chronicle:
District officials there found that serving chocolate milk could mean an increase of 12.5 million cartons consumed rather than wasted each year — which would translate to a 23 percent increase in milk consumption. District officials put chocolate milk back in all the district’s schools this spring.
Los Angeles’ results mirrored those from a 2014 Cornell University study, which found that while banning chocolate milk could reduce calorie and sugar consumption, it could also mean less milk consumed, more waste and fewer kids buying school lunch.
“Food service managers need to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of eliminating chocolate milk and should consider alternative options that make white milk more convenient, attractive, and normal to choose,” the Cornell authors wrote.
Other studies came to the same conclusion, including a 2009 study by the American Heart Association that found both flavored and plain milk provide health benefits for students without weight gain.
Students, meanwhile, seem to prefer the option of white or chocolate milk, though some told the news site they would drink either one.
“I’d rather choose chocolate milk, but I’m fine with whatever,” 12-year-old Danny Wu said during a summer school session at George Washington High School.
Sebastian Ong, 8, said a ban on chocolate milk would be “a bummer, but whatever.”
Others like 9-year-old Naijella Raybon were more adamant in their opposition to the ban.
“Nooooooo!” she said, wiping away fake tears. “It was my only source of (beverage). It’s tasty, and it’s so good to drink.”