Is Drinking Chocolate and Other Flavored Milks Healthy?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The Washington Dairy Products Commission provided the following definition for flavored milk in their article "Defining the Dairy Case," published on their website (accessed Mar. 12, 2007):

"Flavored milk (fat-free, 1% lowfat, 2% reduced fat, whole-milk) is milk to which flavoring such as cocoa or cocoa powder, strawberry or vanilla extract and a sweetener have been added. Variety of flavors include chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, banana, cappuccino and coffee."

Mar. 12, 2007 - Washington Dairy Products Commission 



PRO (yes)

Rachel K. Johnson, PhD, MPH, RD, Dean and Professor of Nutrition at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Vermont and Min Qi Wang, PhD, Professor in the Department of Public and Community Health at the University of Maryland explain in their June 2002 paper "The Nutritional Consequences of Flavored-Milk Consumption By School-Aged Children and Adolescents in the United States," Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2002:

"Children who consumed flavored milk had higher calcium intakes but similar percent energy from total fat and added sugars intake compared with children who were nonconsumers of milk. The observations that flavored milk did not increase added sugars intake was in all likelihood the result of lower intakes of soft drinks and fruit drinks by the children who consumed flavored milk...

Flavored milks can play a role in changing recent trends in children's sugar-sweetened beverage consumption patterns that have a negative impact on their diet quality. Flavored milks offer a well-accepted, nutritious alternative in the wide array of beverages available to children in the United States."

June 2002 - Rachel K. Johnson, PhD, MPH, RD 
Min Qi Wang, PhD 



The National Dairy Council stated in their article "Flavored Milk in Perspective," published on their website (Mar. 12, 2007):

"Flavored milks are as nutritious as unflavored milks. Both types of milk are nutrient dense foods containing a high proportion of essential nutrients in relation to their energy content. Chocolate milk, for example, provides the same essential nutrients as white milk, including calcium, protein, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B12, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, and niacin. Like unflavored milks, all versions of flavored milks provide 300mg calcium per serving or about one-third to one-fourth of children's daily calcium recommendation.

The main difference between flavored milk such as chocolate and unflavored milk is the 2 to 4 teaspoons more sugar (sucrose or high fructose corn syrup)... Intake of sugar may contribute to dental caries [tooth decay], but it is unlikely that flavored milks cause this disease. Flavored milks, being liquid, do not readily adhere to tooth surfaces. Also, components in flavored milks may protect against dental caries...

The minute amount of caffeine in chocolate milk, which is similar to the amount in decaffeinated coffee, is generally considered too small to affect most children's behavior or health."

Mar. 12, 2007 - National Dairy Council (NDC) 



The Dairy Council of California stated in their article "Dairy - Questions and Answers," published on their website (accessed on Mar. 12, 2007):

"Because flavored milk is a good source of high-quality protein and offers a wide range of essential nutrients including calcium and vitamin D, it is not considered junk food. Milk - both flavored and unflavored - supplies many of the nutrients that children commonly under-consume...

Flavored milk, well liked by children and teens, is one more way to help them meet their recommended three to four calcium servings daily. Flavored 100% milk is a nutritious beverage choice in the context of an overall healthy diet."

Mar. 12, 2007 - Dairy Council of California 



CON (no)

Caroline E. Mayer, staff writer for the Washington Post, wrote in her July 30, 2005 article "Sugary Milk Still Does a Body Good: It At Least Beats Soda, Some Nutritionists Say":

"An eight-ounce glass of milk contains about 12 grams of sugar; flavored milk drinks can have 15 to 31 grams... Some nutritionists are concerned about the high sugar and saturated fat content in some of the flavored varieties, especially since many come in 14- and 16-ounce bottles and are likely to be consumed in one sitting. Nesquick's 16-ounce reduced-fat drink has one of the highest sugar contents. A teen who polishes off the whole drink would get 320 calories and 60 grams of sugar, compared with 250 calories and 67 grams of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle of several popular non-diet sodas... Nesquick's 16-ounce strawberry drink, made with 2 percent milk, also contains 6 grams of saturated fat."

July 30, 2005 - Caroline E. Mayer 



People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) explain in their Oct. 20, 2003 complaint to the Florida Department of Education titled "Complaint to Prohibit or Severely Restrict Sales of Flavored Milk Products in Vending Machines in Public Schools":

"As part of a campaign to increase sales, the dairy industry has recently begun marketing flavored-milk vending machines to schools. The products have been advertised as a 'healthful' beverage for the students and a favorable alternative to soft drinks. The reality, however, is that flavored milk products are neither healthy for students, a good alternative to soft drinks, nor a responsible product for schools to sell...

A typical nutritional analysis for a 16-ounce bottle of chocolate milk (taken from the actual nutrition label of one of the major vending-machine suppliers) reveals a staggering 460 calories; 16 grams of fat, 10 grams of which are saturated; 58 grams of sugar; 280 milligrams of sodium; and 60 milligrams of cholesterol. The same amount of Pepsi, for example, contains 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, and only 200 calories. Remarkably, a 16-ounce serving of Pepsi even has less sugar than the chocolate milk's 58 grams, which is equal to 14 teaspoons per bottle...

There is no medical dispute that saturated fat and cholesterol, which vending-machine milk products contain in abundance, are linked to serious health problems, including obesity and diabetes in the short term and artery-clogging heart disease and cancer in the long term."

Oct. 20, 2003 - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) 



The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) stated in their article "Healthy School Snacks," published on their website (accessed Mar. 12, 2007):

"Single-serve containers of chocolate or other flavored whole or 2% milk drinks can be too high in calories (400-550 calories) and saturated fat (1/3 of a day's worth) to be a healthy beverage for kids."

Mar. 12, 2007 - Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)