Growing up, milk was a staple at every meal. Today, fewer kids drink milk, but is that a good thing?
For many people, milk was the constant beverage at any meal. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, no matter the food served, parents would serve their kids milk. On a good day, it was chocolate milk. But recent studies show that fewer kids drink milk, either on its own or with a meal. But, is restricting a child’s dairy intake a good thing?
The classic “Got Milk” campaigns with its milk mustache touted the importance of drinking milk. From stronger bones to a good source of protein, milk was seen as a good beverage. Over the years, more and more people chose to go dairy free. While that decision may be fine for adults, kids may not benefit from the dairy free lifestyle.
(Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Got Milk)
Milk is a good source of calcium and vitamin D. These two nutrients are critical for kids to have strong bones. While those nutrients can be found in other sources, drinking milk can be easier for kids. Having a child eat a big bowl of kale might be a battle. It is highly doubtful that most kids would eat sardines. But, a glass of milk with dinner shouldn’t cause a struggle.
With the proper amount of nutrients like vitamin D and calcium, kids could develop deficiencies in bone strength. Restricting milk consumption could impact a child’s height potential, increase the potential of stress fractures and impact the chances of developing osteoporosis later in life. The foundation for good bone structure occurs during a person’s developmental years. The problems cannot be correct years later.
In an informal poll of friends, family and a parents at a school function, the consensus showed that kids would drink milk if it was offered. Only a few kids just didn’t like the taste of milk. But, those kids were fine with milk added (or hidden) into a drink. Smoothies made with milk, fruits and even veggies offer a great alternative to just drinking a glass of milk. With the same nutritional value as the glass of milk, the smoothie was enjoyed by even the kids who don’t like milk.
While some parents may want to restrict their dairy intake, the impact on kids may not be beneficial. A child’s growth can be impacted when there isn’t enough dairy in their diet. Even though there is simplicity in having a household on the same dietary plan, the impact on children is different than an adult. Instead of do fewer kids drink milk, the question is should they?
Much data shows that drinking milk has benefits for kids. From a strong foundation for bone structure to overall health, milk has benefits. While a parent may prefer a dairy free lifestyle, kids may not. Of course, it can be easier for an entire family to follow a single meal plan. But, that lifestyle shouldn’t compromise the overall health benefits for a growing child.
While fewer kids drink milk, a change might be a good thing. Got milk won’t just be an advertisement it will be a statement about what’s in the refrigerator.