It’s been quite a week in food health research, and it’s only Wednesday! In school lunch news, the New York Times reported that bans on soda in middle school have made virtually no difference in reducing sugary-drink consumption among those students during school hours.
“The study, which looked at thousands of public school students across 40 states, found that removing soda from cafeterias and school vending machines only prompted students to buy sports drinks, sweetened fruit drinks and other sugar-laden beverages instead. In states that banned only soda, students bought and consumed sugary drinks just as frequently at school as their peers in states where there were no bans at all.”
Then, I heard on CNN that a recent study finds fast food purchases increase as consumers rise from lower- to middle-income earners. This finding goes against the conventional wisdom that lower income consumers buy more fast food, contributing significantly to their higher rate of obesity.
“There is a correlation between obesity and lower income, but it cannot be solely attributed to restaurant choice,” Leigh said in a statement. “Fast-food dining is most popular among the middle class, who are less likely to be obese.”
And all of this news is happening during Jamie Oliver’s “Milk Week of Action” challenge, which sets its sights on pressuring schools to take flavored milk off the menu. In light of the news about school soda consumption, I’m wondering how effective this result would be among older children, but I’ve already seen its effectiveness among one sample group: my children.
My 4 year old will not drink plain milk. As a baby, he couldn’t digest milk, and so we gave him rice milk until he was two years old. But the switch to milk after he outgrew his intolerance didn’t really “take” like I’d hoped. He gets most of calcium from other sources, but he will drink chocolate milk, which I dilute with skim. I generally feel that it’s better than no milk. However.
This week he started at a new preschool which lets kids buy lunch at the adjacent grade-school cafeteria. All last week he bought a school lunch, and at the end of the week he told me “They only let me buy white milk. And I drink it. And I like it a little bit!” So, for him the lack of choice in the milk department has turned his taste buds around.
The Food Revolution site has a number of ideas for influencing/reducing the milk options at the school your children attend. It can be as simple as writing a letter to the principal, or more involved community action. But only, of course, if you believe that your school should offer only pure milk. What do you think is the best method: milk by any means, or reducing the choice to the healthiest one? Is it a battle worth fighting? Or, do you think kids will end up consuming the same amount of sugary milk even if it’s removed from elementary schools, the way they do in middle schools? Share your thoughts it he comments, below.