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Memo to Connecticut Lawmakers: Whole-Milk Products are Not Making Our Kids Fat

milk

Milk: It’s not the enemy. Really.

Who among us isn’t for healthier, fitter kids? Dumb question. Everyone wants today’s youth to eat nutritiously, exercise regularly, and live long, fruitful lives.

However, some of us have different ideas on how that is best achieved. As a parent, I try to make my kids get outside and move their bodies regularly. They do eat some sweets, but I also ensure they get fruits, vegetables, and protein regularly, and that they also take calcium supplements (my 5-year-old bizarrely and falsely claims to be allergic to dairy) and digestive probiotics (fewer colds this winter!).

Lawmakers in Connecticut want to do their part to ensure that kids in the Nutmeg State grow up to be strong and fit, according to Fox News. That’s why they’re considering legislation that would ban 2-percent and whole milk products from day care centers because they say it would help combat childhood obesity.

Clearly Connecticut Democratic Reps. David Zoni and Roberta Willis and state Sen. Catherine Osten, the bill’s sponsors, are aware that in 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that past the age of 2, kids should switch to low-fat milk products because, at that point, they no longer require the fat from whole milk for their brain development.

If passed into the law, the bill would require that:

“No child day care center, group day care home or family day care home shall provide milk with a milk fat content greater than 1 percent to any child 2 years of age or older under the care of such facility unless milk with a higher milk fat content is medically required for an individual child, as documented by such child’s medical provider.”

And that’s great. Except this isn’t 2008. It’s 2014. The news these days is all about how consuming products such as whole milk, butter, and full-fat yogurt can not only satiate us to the extent that we don’t have to do all the extra snacking — often the real culprit in packing on the pounds — but also, “there may be bioactive substances in the milk fat that may be altering our metabolism in a way that helps us utilize the fat and burn it for energy, rather than storing it in our bodies,” Greg Miller, the executive vice president of the National Dairy Council recently said to NPR.

In other words, whole-milk products may be responsible for lowering our risk of obesity. Yes, maybe preschoolers don’t need whole milk for their brains, but they might very well need it for their health.

Go ahead and do away with Big Gulps (although, really, there must be better laws to pass than this one). Mandate that we read nutritional information before buying Big Macs. But stay current on the news. Want to do something right by our kids? Ban apple juice from the cafeteria. Do away with Doritos. Chuck the Cheetos. Restrict raisins. Gummies? Be gone. But keep the whole and 2-percent milk. It does bodies — big and small — loads of good.

Perhaps even more important than banning and encouraging various foods? Keep reading. As science and research evolve and grow, so does our capacity for knowledge and how we can better understand the ways to raise healthy children.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

More from Meredith on Babble:

Follow Meredith on Twitter and check out her regular column on the op-ed page of The Denver Post at MeredithCarroll.com

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