Chocolate Milk Targeted in War on Child Obesity

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One of the nations largest school districts is taking a stand against childhood obesity by banning flavored milk.

A number of physicians have applauded the move and it's likely other school districts across the country will follow suit.

"Hershey's Instant makes milk taste like a Hersey bar. It's fortified with Vitamin C, Z, and Iron," one chocolate milk television commercial claims.

Chocolate milk is a tasty staple in school cafeterias across the country. When going through the lunch line, kids typically pass up white milk for it's great tasting chocolate counterpart.

The flavored milk lunch room tradition goes back generations. But with childhood obesity on the rise, the sugary tradition is slowly coming to an end.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school system in the country, recently voted to stop serving chocolate and strawberry milk.

More than 6,000 parents signed a petition encouraging the move. But it was celebrity television chef Jamie Oliver who inspired the parents. Oliver hosts the popular ABC-TV series "Food Revolution."

During a dramatic stunt on one of the show's episodes, Oliver gave parents in Los Angeles a look at just how much extra sugar their kids consume through flavored milk.

He filled a school bus with the amount of extra sugar students drink in one week. The amount had the bus bursting at the seams.

"Yes, I'm trying to make it dramatic because I want people to care," Oliver said.

In a recent interview with CBN News, Oliver shared his passion for transforming American's schools.

"Without trying to be dramatic, this is really, really dark times in health," he said.

Seventy percent of all milk sold in schools is flavored.

"As far as I'm concerned, chocolate milk is soda in drag," dietary expert Ann Cooper said.

Cooper said forget about vitamins and calcium in flavored milk. It's loaded with sugar and fat.

"It's just like saying, 'Kids don't have enough fruit. They don't like apples, feed them apple pie,'" she said.

The typical half pint of chocolate milk contains 170 calories plus 28 grams of sugar -- more sugar than is used in a package of Peanut M&M's.

Some health advocates say the nutritional benefits of flavored milk outweigh the harm, arguing students stop drinking milk when not offered the option for chocolate.

It is estimated that close to one-third of all U.S. students are overweight. Nutritionists and parents are waging war on childhood obesity, which means more kids could see their favorite chocolate drink disappearing from lunchrooms around the country.

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Tyler James

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Tyler James writes and produces stories for CBN's daily newscasts and The 700 Club.  He also served as a photographer and field editor during the 2008 presidential race, covering campaign stops, both conventions and election night parties.

Tyler received his Bachelors of Arts in telecommunications with an emphasis on broadcast journalism from Oklahoma Baptist University.