Remember school lunches? Many people have memories of school time lunches supplemented with milk cartons. Said milk has come under fire recently; first, sugary flavored milk was a problem. Now, a group of physicians are attempting to remove milk altogether from the National School Lunch Program. The charge: that milk is not nearly as nutritious as proponents claim, and perhaps even more surprisingly, that milk is not that great for brittle bones.
In the petition filed yesterday, the group, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, charges:
“The nutritional rationale for including dairy milk in school meal programs was based primarily on its calcium content; therefore dairy milk was presumed to promote bone health and integrity. This supposition has proven false. Abundant evidence has shown that milk has no special effect on bone health and does not prevent fractures in children and adults.”
And they’re not exactly being hyperbolic. A 2003 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that tried to spot a correlation between milk consumption and hip fractures in post-menopausal woman found none. And a study conducted earlier this year, published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, sought to see whether drinking milk reduced the risk of stress fractures in children. Children who drank the most amount of milk had, on average, the same amount of fractures as those who drank less.
The petition continues: “Animal protein and sodium content [in dairy milk] leach calcium from the bones and encourage its passage into urine.” In effect, though milk does have a lot of calcium, its properties make it less likely that the body will hold onto it – thus rendering the positive effects of calcium null and void. The petition also says that dairy milk has a high amount of sugar, occasional drugs and contaminants, and a substantial amount of fat and cholesterol.
The group also says that there are loads of foods that are preferable in adding calcium to a diet – beans, tofu, broccoli, breads, cereals, and kale are all superior.
In addition, researchers have found a positive link between exercise and bone health – a link that may be stronger that anything that a child can eat.