Banning Milk From School Lunches Will Do More Harm Than Good

Rant 48

milk cartonOf all the battlegrounds in the school lunchroom, I never thought I'd see the day when a bunch of doctors were actually telling parents that milk was the bad guy. Milk? As in the white stuff our parents made us suck down by the gallon? Could it really be as evil as (gasp) soda?

Yup, that's the stuff the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is demanding the USDA kick out of the National School Lunch Program. The non-profit says the calcium in milk is not helping our kids' bones at all, and the fat content is turning them into a bunch of fatties. And I'm not buying it for a second.

Coming from a group that peddles a vegan diet program (get the book for just $25.99!), it's no surprise that PCRM is anti-milk. The non-profit spends a lot of time trying to convince people that animal anything is bad for you.

But as a vegetarian who still pushes milk on my kid, and makes her take a calcium supplement because I'm all-too-aware that about nine million American women suffer from osteoporosis, allow me to poke a few holes in their argument.

1. It's true, milk can be fattening. And this is why the National School Lunch Program tells schools to provide one cup of fat-free or low-fat milk at breakfast and lunch. Fat issue down, let's move on.

2. Now how about calcium, the stuff we've always been told is supposed to help kids build strong bones? Well, for starters, the lower the fat content of the milk, the better shot your kid's body has at absorbing the calcium.

3. Then there's vitamin D. We keep hearing that the increased use of sunscreen means American kids are not getting nearly enough of this important vitamin, to the point where millions of kids are vitamin D deficient. Any guesses where our kids get their dose of this stuff? Hint: it's white, most of us drink it cold ...

But of course the PCRM says that milk isn't giving kids enough calcium, and by getting rid of it, they'll make room for other calcium-rich substance like greens. 'Scuse me, but when did it become an either/or with our kids?

If kids are already not getting enough calcium (and the studies show school-aged girls are especially at risk with this), shouldn't we want MORE, not less? Shouldn't we be doing everything we can to prevent them from skipping the milk and going straight for the soda or the energy drinks?

How about we leave milk alone and start talking about what is really wrong with the school lunch program: allowing pizza to count as a vegetable ...

What do you think? Is milk causing our kids more harm than good?

 

Image via Where's My Hippo?/Flickr

kid health, kids nutrition, school lunch