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Research Project: Preventing the Development of Childhood Obesity

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Is flavored milk really a bad beverage choice? The nutritional benefits of flavored milk outweigh the added sugars content


Submitted to: Acta Scientific NUTRITIONAL HEALTH
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/21/2021
Publication Date: 12/27/2021
Citation: Nicklas, T.A., Saab, R., Fulgoni III, V.L. 2021. Is flavored milk really a bad beverage choice? The nutritional benefits of flavored milk outweigh the added sugars content. Acta Scientific NUTRITIONAL HEALTH. 6(1):114-132.

Interpretive Summary: To help address the low intake of nutrients of public health concern, the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 2.5 servings of dairy products for 4-8 yr old children and 3 servings for those 9-18 yrs old. Based on data from this observational study, and confirmed by others, flavored milk is not an overall bad beverage choice given the nutritional benefit of dairy consumed. While focus on added sugars content alone may classify flavored milk as not an ideal choice, its other essential nutrient contents are more than sufficient to modify that designation based on sugar content alone. Consumption of flavored milk aids in meeting the total milk consumption requirement, and more importantly, helps more children meet recommendations for nutrients of public health concern.

Technical Abstract: The objective of this study was to re-examine the nutritional contribution of flavored milk in the diets of children with an emphasis on total milk consumption, added sugars, and the shortfall nutrients of public health concern using the most recent national data set available. Intake data from children 2 to 18 years (N=28,259) participating in the NHANES 2001-2018 were obtained from the 24- hour dietary recall interviews. Mean nutrient intakes, nutrient adequacy, least square means and standard errors of energy and intakes of each nutrient were determined. Z-scores were used to assess population differences in nutrient adequacy. A conservative p-value of (p < or = 0.001) was used. Compared with non-consumers, consumers of flavored milk had higher intakes of total energy, total sugars, and total added sugars. Consumers of flavored milk consumed more total milk (approximately 1-cup equivalent more) than non-consumers. Flavored milk consumers 2-to-18 years, had significantly (p < 0.0001) higher intakes of fiber, vitamins D, A and B-12, riboflavin, calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus than non-consumers. Compared to non-consumers, consumers of flavored milk had a lower percentage not meeting dietary recommendations for vitamins A, D, and B-12, riboflavin, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. The percentage of flavored milk consumers with intakes above the adequate intake was lower for fiber intake but higher for potassium intake compared to non-consumers. Based on data from this study, flavored milk is not a bad beverage of choice. The nutritional benefits of flavored milk far outweighs the added sugars content.