Milk Industry Unites Against Proposed Tax on Chocolate Milk

Groups say flavored milk is part of solution to childhood obesity.

A suggested federal excise tax on flavored milk drinks, such as chocolate and strawberry, that contain sugar-based sweeteners was rejected Thursday by leaders of the two major dairy industry groups.

 

Connie Tipton, President and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, and Jerry Kozak, President and CEO at the National Milk Producers Federation, said flavored milk is part of the solution to the child obesity problem, not a cause, and its consumption needs to be encouraged among kids, not discouraged by a new tax.

 

"Milk is a nutrient-rich beverage that is good for kids," said Tipton. "We need to encourage them to drink more and it's no secret kids love flavored milk. Processors have developed low-fat flavored milk options that don't have excessive calories, but switching to no-calorie sweeteners has proved problematic. Still, flavored milk is an excellent way to increase milk consumption and make children's diets more nutritious."

 

Added Kozak: "Milk is unique in that it provides nine essential nutrients, including calcium and other nutrients kids don't get enough of. Limiting consumption of flavored milk could easily reduce intakes of nutrients kids need, and that come in a package they enjoy. In addition, research has shown that children who drink flavored along with unflavored milk don't have higher body mass indexes than non-milk drinkers."

 

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans bolsters the argument for flavored milk. According to the guidelines, adding a small amount of sugar to nutrient-rich foods such as reduced-fat milk enhances their appeal and improves diet without adding excessive calories. Also the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages consumption low-fat or fat-free milk, including flavored milk, as an alternative soft drinks.

 

"Taxing flavored milk because it includes a small amount of sugar is penny-wise and pound-foolish, from a nutritional standpoint" said Tipton. "Studies show that low-fat chocolate milk is kids' nutritious beverage of choice. It would be ridiculous to discourage kids from drinking it."

 

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