“Healthier” Choices for Schoolchildren?

Many schools are heeding the warnings from health groups and concerned parents and removing junk food and pop from schools, choosing to replace them with healthier choices. But are these new “healthier” choices really the best alternative?

One of the healthier choices being made available in schools is milk. A bill passed by the House of Representatives requires schools to offer all four fat contents of milk: whole, 2%, 1% and skim. Whole milk and 2% milk are the largest source of saturated fat in a child’s diet. This bill prohibits schools from restricting the sale or promotion of whole or 2% milk. This means that items such as various flavors of milkshake as well as the whole and 2% milk, which are higher in saturated fat and calories than lower fat milk, must be stocked in vending machines and cafeterias. Lower fat milks, such as 1% and skim, contain the same nutrients as higher fat varieties—calcium, vitamin D and protein—but with less of the harmful saturated fat.

Consider these statistics:

Three out of four children consume more saturated fat than the government recommends.

One-quarter of 5 to10 year olds have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or other risks for heart disease.

A child who drinks one cup of 1% milk instead of 2% milk each school day will cut 47,000 calories and 11 pounds of fat from their diet during their 13 years of school.

For the full story on taking junk food out of schools, read Trashing Junk Food.

The best choice

Being a place of education, schools should practice what they preach; it is difficult teach children about healthy eating while continuing to offer high fat and high calorie choices. It is easier for children to make a good, nutritious choice when the only options are healthy ones. However, as long as the options are available, we need to encourage our children to overlook the sugary drinks and make wise choices. Teach your children to look for the following drinks instead of pop or sports drinks:

Bottled water

Pure fruit juice

Lowfat milk—1% and skim


With rates of childhood obesity growing rapidly it is important to ensure our children are aware of the healthier options that are available to them. If your child is knowledgeable on which choices they should make and why, they will make the right choice when faced with these