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Chocolate Milk and Teens

Is chocolate milk a suitable option for teens?

The Facts:

Teens don't drink enough milk to meet their nutrition needs.

Health Canada recommends that teens drink two glasses of milk a day, but most Canadian teens get just over one serving of milk daily . With 61% of teen boys and 83% of teen girls not meeting Health Canada's dailyi recommended three to four servings of Milk and Alternativesii , it's no surprise that they are not getting enough magnesium, vitamin A and phosphorous, and they may not be meeting calcium and potassium needsiii.

Why is this a problem?

During the pre-teen and teen years, 40% of bone is formediv , with milk products (a key source of these nutrients) playing a major role in this processv. Milk products may also prevent hypertension and colon cancer, and promote healthy body weights in teensvi.

Chocolate milk improves teens' overall nutritional status.

Chocolate milk contains the same 16 nutrients as plain milk, making it an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D and other bone-building nutrients. Research shows that teens who drink flavoured milk meet more of their nutrient needsvii , do not consume more fat, calories or added sugarviii ix , and are not heavier than non-milk-drinkersx . Research does not support the idea that restricting chocolate milk in teens' diets would bring about health benefits.

Teens select beverages that are socially acceptable.

During the teen years, students are more likely to pick beverages that are 'peer approved'. At school, about 80% of teens select chocolate milk over white (white milk is perceived as an "at home" beverage, and is less socially acceptable to drink while hanging out with friendsxi). So compared to other available 'peer approved' options like pop, sports drinks, coffee, iced tea and imitation fruit beverages, chocolate milk is a more nutritious choice.

Bottom Line?

Chocolate milk can help teens get the nutrients their diet may be lacking.

i Garriguet, D. (2008). Beverage consumption of children and teens. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.
ii Garriguet, D. (2004). Nutrition: Findings from the Canadian Community Health Survey. Overview of Canadians' eating habits. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.
iii Health Canada. (2009). Do Canadian Adolescents Meet Their Nutrient Requirements Through Food Intake Alone? Retrieved May 17, 2010, from Health Canada: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/surveill/nutrition/commun/art-nutr-adol-eng.php#a2
iv Bonjour J. P. (1991). Critical years and stages of puberty for spinal and femoral bone mass accumulation during adolescence. J Clin Endocrinol Metab , 73(30):555-63.
v Huncharek, M. M. (2008). Impact of dairy products and dietary calcium on bone-mineral content in children: results of a meta-analysis. Bone , 43:312-21.
vi Novotny, R. (2004). Dairy intake is associated with lower body fat and soda intake with greater body weight in adolescent girls. J Nutr , 234:1905-9.
vii Murphy, M. M. (2008). Drinking flavoured or plain milk is positively associated with nutrient intake and is not associated with adverse effects on weight status in US Children and adolescents. J Am Dietetic Assoc , 108(4):631-9.
viii Ibid
ix Johnson, R. K. (2002). The nutritional consequences of flavoured-milk consumption by school-aged children and adolescents in the United States. J Am Dietetic Assoc , 102(6):853-6.
x Johnson, R. K. (2009). Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health. A scientific statement from the American Heart Assoication. Circulation , 120(11):1011-20.
xi Youthography. (2010). Healthy eating landscape and predictors of milk consumption amongst pre-teens - a qualitative study. Toronto: Unpublished.

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