“Drink your milk!” As a kid I was taught that drinking milk at meals was one of the best ways to ensure I got enough calcium. The “Got Milk” campaign was practically inescapable, and people across the US were fooled into thinking that milk was an essential and required aspect of their diet. While milk itself is not a particularly harmful product, it is certainly not necessary. A 2013 study published in JAMA focused on the negative health effects of the high sugar content in milk. I was shocked to learn that one cup of 2% milk contains more grams of sugar than a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup, 12.3g. The recommended daily sugar intake is only 12g grams for children, so this glass of milk should really have been treated as dessert rather than a nutritious drink.
More nutritious sources of calcium include beans, nuts, certain types of fish, spinach and other green leafy vegetables. What baffles me is that the USDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommend drinking three glasses of milk a day. The lack of nutritious value in milk is not a secret. It was shrouded from the public by a successful marketing scheme, but why would these organizations continue to propagate the message? They have access to scientific studies, as well as the obvious relative calcium content in milk versus the sources listed above. Apparently, it is naïve to think that the food guidelines projected as trustworthy are free of capitalist corruption. The strong focus on milk as part of a healthy diet seem to suggest that there are more factors at play when creating the food pyramid than giving people the most accurate information possible.