Whole milk has been a staple part of a child's diet since mankind realized the cow was so useful. Advertising has finally convinced us that milk does a body good and is a vital part of growing up with strong bones and teeth. Infants who have reached a year of age are told to switch from powdered formula for their nutrients to whole milk and solid foods. Milk is still the drink of choice for children at daycare, in school, and at home. With the popularity of sugary juices and sodas, health care professionals cannot advocate the use of milk enough.
In the fight to get more children to drink milk, it seems like the push is working. Around 72% of children, including teenagers, are drinking milk each day. The boys seem to drink more than the girls but 3/4 of the youth population is nothing to snark at.
However, it now it seems like all milk is not created equal. At a recent trip to the pediatrician's office, my family was chastised for not having switched to low-fat milk. The doctor told me that whole milk simply has too much unnecessary fat in it and once a child has turned 2 years old they should be drinking a low-fat alternative. The reason doctors wait until two years old to make the switch is that many younger toddlers aren't getting enough nutrients just from the solid foods they may, or may not, be eating so the whole milk is a healthy addition. However, some pediatricians are bypassing that concern and recommending starting low-fat milk as young as age 1.
Many daycare facilities are working with the USDA Food Program to deliver healthy meals to children while in care. During my last inspection from the food program, my contact mentioned that they were considering changing the requirements for milk so that whole milk would no longer be creditable under the program.
The state of Colorado, Department of Human Services, has also put together a rather large proposal looking to amend the rules of daycare centers in the states. One of the changes, if the proposal is implemented, is to prohibit daycares from serving whole milk to children unless they have a written permission slip from a physician.
In a 2011 report from the National Center for Health Statistics, it shows that 32% of the children drinking milk are ingesting the traditional Vitamin D whole milk type. Nearly half are drinking the 2% kind and a low 20% are drinking low-fat, or skim, milk. The report implies that there aren't enough children drinking low-fat milk.
Is whole milk really that much of a problem for children? As a parent, I am more concerned with the potential hormones and chemicals being fed to the cows generating then milk than I am about the fat component of the drink. Is childhood obesity becoming such a problem that kids must convert to diluted milk? What about the junk food, processed foods, and non-organic produce that is being fed to daycare children? If the country put limitations on those items, would the need to change the type of milk we drink be diminished?
What are your thoughts on the whole milk debate? Should the government be able to dictate what type of milk your child drinks?