By Nathan Smith

To this Texan, the only thing better than milk is chocolate milk.

It’s a favorite part of my post exercise routine, so it’s a good thing I’m not a student in some Los Angeles or Washington, D.C. school districts where chocolate milk is a thing of the past.

School administrators in some districts in a few states claim the sugar content in flavored milk is a major contributor to the nation’s child obesity epidemic.  Florida considered a statewide ban, citing the added sugar in flavored milk as a major culprit to the health of students.

There is never a shortage of fingers pointing when the time comes to blame food for kids being overweight. It’s not the lack of exercise,  poor eating examples at home or the Xboxaddictionitis being blamed. It’s the chocolate milk.

Some school administrators, in their hurry to seem proactive, are working to remove a product that many—including the School Nutrition Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dietetic Association, American Heart Association, and National Medical Association—agree provides nine essential nutrients including vitamin D, calcium and protein.

What’s more, these groups argue that the impact of the added sugar in flavored milk is outweighed by the nutrients it provides. In fact, they point to studies that show milk drinkers are no heavier than non-milk drinkers.

Jaime Oliver, British celebrity TV chef, is a major critic of flavored milk. He calls it “candy.” You may recognize his name. He’s the guy who was serving rotten meat to his restaurant patrons a few weeks ago. Authority on food health?

Yes, there is some sugar in flavored milk. Yes, large amounts of sugar is bad for kids.

But, according to the Milk Processors Education Program, milk consumption goes down by 35 percent when flavored options are removed. The health benefits of milk are clear. School districts could offer reduced fat chocolate milk; the difference in taste is negligible. 

It’s all about balance.

People of all ages have food choices every day. Simply removing a choice does not eliminate the problem of obesity. For years, health and fitness experts have stressed the importance of moderation.

So pass me the milk – the chocolate milk.