An executive order issued last month by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg sets new nutrition standards, reinforcing the existing restrictions on milk in schools and expanding the standards to all city agencies. The order is the latest in a series of steps that city officials have taken to address rising concerns about childhood obesity.
The new standards focus on calories, sugar content, sodium and fat allowances for all foods, including dairy products. Specifically, milk must be one percent or nonfat. White milk must not contain more than 100 calories, while flavored milk is required to have 130 calories or fewer per eight-ounce serving. Yogurt also must be lowfat or nonfat, and only lowfat cheeses containing no more than 215 milligrams of sodium per serving will be allowed.
New York City has made several attempts in recent years to fight obesity among the more than one million students in the city's vast public school system. In November 2005, for example, the New York City Department of Education decided to stop serving whole milk altogether and to limit the calories that can be included in flavored milk. In March of 2007, the city council asked the department to reassess its decision, because city government statistics showed that consumption of milk in New York City schools had dropped 10 percent during the short time that the restrictions were in place. ("NYC Council Calls for Assessment of Decision to Limit School Milk Choices in Light of 10% Drop in Consumption.") The department, however, took no action on the council's request.
"We are very concerned about the decline in school milk consumption as a result of this policy. Milk is the number one source of calcium and other essential nutrients in the diet of all Americans, especially school-age children, and many only get milk at school." said Ruth Saunders, IDFA senior director of policy and legislative affairs.
Studies have shown that sodas and fruit drinks are the number one source of added sugars in the diets of U.S. children, and children who drink flavored milk tend to drink fewer nutrient-void sodas and sugar fruit drinks, according to the American Dietetic Association. IDFA will urge Mayor Bloomberg to put the nutritional health of the children and their parents first by reassessing the restrictions that are limiting milk consumption in schools.
For more information, contact Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-220-3553.