July 8, 2002 When kids devour their lunches at day camp, school or home, if they don't end up with that tell-tale "milk moustache," they may not be getting their daily requirement of calcium. But a "milk moustache" of pink or brown is also a good indicator of a healthy child. Flavored milk, it turns out, is a way to give children the calcium they need, in a form they'll actually drink, without adding extra fat and sugar to their diets.
Children who consume flavored milk have higher calcium intakes than those who don't, according to a University of Vermont (UVM) study published in late May in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (JADA).
The study's researchers evaluated data from USDA's Continuing Survey of Food Intakes of Individuals (CSFII) to determine the typical beverage intake of 3,888 children (2,763 ages 5-11 and 1,125 ages 12-17). The results showed that children who drink flavored milk consume fewer nutrient-poor soft drinks and fruit drinks than their counterparts who don't drink flavored milk.
And "while many moms may be concerned that flavored milk will add to their child's added sugar intake, this study shows that flavored milk actually helps boost their overall calcium intake, without impacting their total added sugar intake," said Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., acting dean and professor of nutrition at UVM's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the study's lead author. "By encouraging flavored milk consumption, moms can help reverse the trend toward soft drink and fruit drink consumption, which are crowding out more nutritious beverages like milk, and negatively impacting children's diet quality."
Beverage choices can play an important role in the overall quality of a child's diet. According to a previous study by Johnson, children who included milk in their noontime meal were the only ones to achieve the recommended calcium intake for the day.
Government recommendations state that children ages 4-8 need 800 milligrams of calcium a day, or the equivalent of about 3 glasses of milk, while children ages 9-18 need 1,300 milligrams of calcium, or the equivalent of about 4 glasses of milk. In addition to calcium, milk provides 8 essential nutrients, including vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium.
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