If you read my posts on juice and yogurt vs. coke, you may be thinking that I’m anti-sugar, but I’m not. Really. I love the stuff.  But when it comes to teaching kids to eat right, highly sweetened foods are not your best friend.  Chocolate milk is a good example of that.  When it’s a staple, chocolate milk teaches kids to like chocolate, not to like milk.

Try this experiment:  put a glass of plain milk, a glass of chocolate milk and a chocolate bar in front of your child and ask him which 2 are most alike.  Better yet, do a blind taste test and ask the same question.

Now ask yourself this:  which has more sugar – chocolate milk or a chocolate bar?

  • Sugar in 1 cup of Horizon Organic Reduced Fat Chocolate Milk = 27g
  • Sugar in 1 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar = 24g

Yes, I know. Some of the sugar in the chocolate milk comes from the milk itself.  And the chocolate milk does have more protein and calcium — that’s why you tolerate the sugar. You may be surprised to find out that chocolate milk isn’t as healthy as you thought.

Remember the NuVal scoring system which ranks foods from 1 to 100, with 100 being the most nutrition? This is how they rate the milk choices.

  • Nonfat milk score of 100
  • 2% plain milks scores 55
  • 2% chocolate milks scores 24.

(Check out all the NuVal  scores to see how flavored milk really fares.)

From a habit’s perspective every chocolate milk makes plain milk a harder “sell” because it makes plain milk seem increasingly less appealing (and sometimes even less tolerable). What’s more, once your kids get used to ultra sweet flavors, good luck getting them to eat their veggies.

Treat chocolate milk as you would a chocolate bar: as a wonderful treat.  Don’t make it a staple.

By the way, Vanilla and strawberry flavored milks are even sweeter:

  • Sugar in 1 cup of Horizon Organic Reduced Fat Vanilla Milk = 29g
  • Sugar in 1 cup of Horizon Organic Reduced Fat Strawberry Milk = 31g

Click on a milk flavor to see the nutrition labels for each Horizon Organic milk.

Remember, it’s not so much what you feed as what you teach that matters.

Source: Calculations from nutrition labels.