Thomas McKim Plastic Surgeon
St. Lukes Medical Center
Nutrition for Sustained Energy

Low-Fat Milk Recognized as Valuable Source of Nutrients

American Academy of Pediatrics cautions against sports and energy drinks

A new clinical report from The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides an important reminder to parents and pediatricians about recommended beverage consumption for children, noting that children should consume nutrient-rich low-fat or fat-free milk with meals.1

“Often times parents forget that beverages are an important factor in children’s diets. They can provide essential nutrients, but in many cases may contribute nothing but empty calories,” said Dr. Robert Murray, Chair, Home and School Health Committee, the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “By including low-fat or fat-free milk with meals, parents can be sure that they’re including a nutrient-rich choice for their children, as opposed to something like an energy or sports drink.”

The report, “Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks for Children and Adolescents: Are They Appropriate?” is published in the June 2011 issue of Pediatrics. The report examines how these products are being misused and provides guidance to eliminate consumption of energy drinks and to decrease or eliminate consumption of sports drinks by children and adolescents. AAP urges parents to use water to rehydrate and low-fat or fat-free milk to help meet nutrient needs. AAP also notes that low-fat milk, which is a good source of protein, is a good option for use as a protein-recovery drink following prolonged vigorous exercise.1

This latest report adds to a body of support from the AAP recognizing the critical role low-fat and fat-free milk play in child nutrition, including:

  • A 2006 report from the AAP on optimizing bone health recommends consuming low-fat or fat-free white or flavored milks, cheeses or yogurts to meet calcium recommendations in children and adolescents.2
  • A 2004 report from the AAP on soft drinks and schools recommends replacing sweetened drinks with real fruit and vegetable juices, water and low-fat white or flavored milk.3 It’s also noted that as sweetened drink consumption rises, milk consumption declines, which is of concern because milk is the primary source of calcium in the diets of children and adolescents.

Given its unique package of nine essential nutrients that are critical to children’s development (calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins D, A and B12, riboflavin and niacin [niacin equivalents]), it’s no surprise that low-fat and fat-free milk, whether white or flavored, is an important part of a healthy diet for children and teens. The new report calls out calcium and vitamin D as key nutrients found in low-fat and fat-free milk, which are particularly important for young people.

Milk’s important nutrient contribution is reflected in the recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which specifically call for children to increase consumption of low-fat and fat-free milk and milk products, such as cheese and yogurt, to the recommended daily amounts:

  • 2 cups for children ages 2 to 3 years
  • 2 ½ cups for children ages 4 to 8
  • 3 cups for those ages 9 years and older.


1Schneider, MB, Benjamin, HJ and the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. American Academy of Pediatrics. Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks for Children and Adolescents: Are They Appropriate? Pediatrics. 2011; 127(6);1182-1189.

2Greer FR, Krebs NF and the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. American Academy of Pediatrics, Optimizing bone health and calcium intakes of infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2006; 117(2):578-585.

3American Academy of Pediatrics, Policy Statement: Soft Drinks in Schools. Pediatrics.2004; 113:152-154.

4U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S Government Printing Office, January 2011. Page 38.

Article Reviewed: January 19, 2016
Copyright © 2015 Healthy Magazine

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