Is Jamie Oliver Right or Wrong About Sugary Milk in Schools?

The added sugar and calories in sweetened, flavored milk have made it an ongoing target for anti-obesity crusader Jamie Oliver. This week, tied in to the Los Angeles season of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, the celebrity chef's campaign made progress when John Deasy, the superintendent of the LA School District, announced on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that he planned to recommend banning flavored milk to the Board of Education. On top of Oliver's rallying cries, a recent New York Times article called out sugar as toxic, adding fuel to the sweet, sweet fire.

But the National Dairy Council defends flavored milk as an important source of nutrients such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin A, and vitamin D for school kids. In its report Flavored Milk in Perspective it argues that "when used in moderation and with concern for overall caloric balance, sugars can increase the appeal of nutrient-rich foods" [such as milk], and notes that 66 percent of all milk sold in schools is flavored. It reports in Top Five Reasons to Raise Your Hand for Flavored Milk that removing flavored milk from schools results in kids drinking significantly less milk overall, causing their diets to suffer.

Note on the graphic: We calculated the total added sugar for a school week (five days) and a school year (180 days).

Data sources for the graphic: National Dairy Council, Flavored Milk in Perspective by the National Dairy Council and Top Five Reasons to Raise Your Hand for Flavored Milk