According to a study published this month in “The Journal of Dairy Science,” researchers have found that children’s repetitive exposure to foods early is a key driver of preference later in life. The study recognized that a “primary indicator of lifetime milk consumption is a habit developed during childhood.” Since 2008, regulations have restricted higher fat content milk varieties from school lunch programs. School lunch programs also saw fewer student participants. This culminated in a 14.2% decrease in all milk sold in U.S. schools from 1.835 million kilograms in 2008 to 1.573 million kilograms in 2017.
This same study also states that “adequate consumption of milk and dairy products, especially during childhood, has beneficial health outcomes for growth, development, and reduced risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, obesity and cancer” over a lifetime. School lunch programs make dairy accessible to children, despite whatever socioeconomic limitations they may experience outside of school, but science shows after many years of decreasing school children’s access to higher fat dairy content products, we also decreased their appeal of the milk product. This process prevents the likelihood of children to incorporate dairy as part of a daily healthy diet during school and beyond. We need to stop denying the dairy industry’s best-tasting milk products from lunch trays across the county
Not only does schooling educate the minds of the future generations, but it also instills healthy dietary habits through repetitive exposure to balanced diets. Denying children the tasty and nutrient-packed benefits of full-fat dairy products is doing them a disservice — and is furthermore not scientifically supported.
It is time the USDA and FDA fix this issue and allow whole milk back in schools.