School chocolate milk ban …a bust?
Eleven Oregon schools recently decided to ban chocolate milk at school lunch, replacing it with skim milk cartons. A small study by a team at Cornell University found that overall rates of consumption of milk and overall consumption of protein by the school children fell significantly once the ban was in place. The kids were clearly not happy with the milk replacement, and a percentage of the kids either tossed the milk or dropped out of the lunch program completely.
Brian Wansink, director of Cornell Food and Brand Lab, suggests that rather than ban the chocolate milk, the approach requires a bit more of a creative intervention. He suggests putting the “white” milk (skim milk) in front of the chocolate milk in the counter display, and also changing the percentage of chocolate milk being offered, so that the kids see more of the white milk in the cooler display. Over time, they will become accustomed to the presence and availability of the white milk, and stop seeing it as “second best.”
Moms and dads can use this same approach to food swaps and food choice shifts in the home. Put water in front of juice and soda, as you attempt to limit and ultimately remove those less healthy choices from your family diet. Put yogurts, cut up vegetables and fruit front and center in the refrigerator, so they are the first foods kids see when they come home from school, famished and seeking a quick snack.