A new bill in Connecticut would ban day cares from serving whole and 2 percent milk to children in their care.
The bill, called An Act Concerning Nutrition Standards for Child Care Settings, wants to set unprecedented standards for what supporters say would fight childhood obesity. It was proposed by a trio of Democrat state lawmakers.
“No child day care center, group day care home or family day care home shall provide milk with a milk fat content greater than one per cent to any child two 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,” the bill states.
The same bill also proposes:
- Giving whole or 2 percent milk only to children who have a medical need.
- No artificial sweeteners or juice for children under 8 months.
- No more than six ounces of juice per day for older kids.
- Only 100 percent juice to be given to children.
It is sponsored by Connecticut state Reps. David Zoni and Roberta Willis, and Sen. Catherine Osten. Whole-milk dairy products are relatively high in saturated fat, they note.
According to some experts, eating too much saturated fat may increase the risk of heart disease. And they believe that it’s best to limit saturated fat. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees that saturated fat should be limited; in 2008, the organization started recommending that children over the age of two drink low-fat milk.
Bill Sears, a pediatrician who is the author or co-author or more than 30 parenting books, recommends that children over two drink low-fat milk. On parenting.com, he was asked by a parent whether or not their pediatrician was correct in recommending low-fat milk to their toddler.
“As babies grow into toddler years, most do not need the extra fat of whole milk and do just fine with two percent milk,” he replied. “Yet the question of when to switch from whole to low-fat milk depends upon your toddler’s overall nutrition. In my pediatric practice, I usually wait until two years of age to switch a toddler from whole milk to two percent milk. The reason why has more to do with toddlers’ temperament rather than developmental needs: Most toddlers are picky eaters and need the extra fat for extra calories.”
But not everyone agrees that drinking low-fat milk will help prevent childhood obesity. Last year the Archives of Disease in Childhood published a study that showed children who drank low-fat milk were more likely to weigh more than children who drank whole milk.
“Our original hypothesis was that children who drank high-fat milk, either whole milk or 2 [percent] would be heavier because they were consuming more saturated-fat calories. We were really surprised when we looked at the data and it was very clear that within every ethnicity and every socioeconomic strata, that it was actually the opposite, that children who drank skim milk and 1 [percent] were heavier than those who drank 2 [percent] and whole,” says Dr. Mark Daniel DeBoer, an associate professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, to Time magazine in March 2013.
Not surprisingly, parents aren’t supportive of the Connecticut bill. After all, it takes away the rights of the parents to decide what is best for their children.
“It makes no sense,” Deb Boucher told WFSB TV. “I mean, that’s a parent’s choice. The daycare, nor should the government, decide for us what percent milk fat we give our children.”
Boucher continued: “If I had an obese child as a parent, I would not give my child whole milk. But, I don’t want the state legislature to decide for me.”
As the milk debate continues to heat up, one thing is clear: parents do not feel that it is up to the state to decide whether their children should drink whole or 2 percent milk.
Who is right here — legislators or parents? Let us know in the comments section below.