The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed new nutrition standards for school lunches, focusing particularly on chocolate milk, a staple in many school meals.
Currently, while unflavored low-fat or fat-free milk is mandatory, flavored variants, including chocolate milk, are permitted for all age groups, as long as they are low-fat or fat-free.
A 2015 American Academy of Pediatrics study revealed that flavored milk constitutes 70% of all milk consumed in schools.
The USDA is now considering two options that could alter this scenario. The first option would restrict chocolate milk to students from grades nine to twelve, an attempt to lessen younger children’s exposure to added sugars during their taste preference development phase.
The agency stated that flavored milk is the primary source of added sugars in both school lunch and breakfast programs. The second option would continue to allow flavored and unflavored milk for all grades, albeit with a cap on added sugars.
The USDA is presently seeking public feedback on these options, with no final decision made yet. Any changes adopted would affect all schools participating in the national school lunch and breakfast programs and are expected to be implemented in the 2025-26 school year.
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