You may be aware by now that the USDA has recently changed it’s guidelines in regards to serving milk in daycare. Their new rules state:
- Milk served to children 2 yrs and older must be skim or 1%.
- Whole milk and 2% milk may no longer be served to children on the food program that are 2 yrs and older.
Low-fat milk (skim and 1%) has the same calcium, same protein, same amount of vitamins and minerals with less fat and fewer calories. Children under two need fat for the brain and nerve growth but after age two we only need some fat in the diet for our brains, joints and energy and most Americans already consume well over the recommended fat intake.
Hmm. It seems like the USDA’s new requirements are reasonable. I mean, we can only assume that by cutting back on fat their objective is to decrease obesity in children. Apparently, in the USDA’s eyes, whole milk is the culprit – or more specifically, saturated fats. The USDA Fact Sheet, depicting low-fat yogurt and low-fat milk on a colorful school lunch tray blazes:Use Low-fat Milk, Cheese, and Yogurt for Healthier School Meals. Their reasoning includes:
- Low-fat (1%) and fat-free (skim) milk provide calcium and other nutrients without a lot of saturated fat.
- A cup of whole milk contains three times as much saturated fat as the same amount of low-fat (1%) milk (4.6 grams of saturated fat in whole milk vs. 1.5 grams in low-fat milk).
Are Saturated Fats Really the Culprit?
The low-fat craze became official in 1984 when the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) began a campaign to convince us that a low-fat diet was healthy. Interestingly enough, when we jumped on the bandwagon and lowered our consumption of saturated fats (things like butter, red meat, raw milk, cream, etc), we began an epidemic of obesity and diabetes. (source)
In 2005, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and other institutions studied the weight and milk consumption of 12,829 kids ages 9 to 14 from across the country. “Contrary to our hypothesis,” they reported, “skim and 1% milk were associated with weight gain, but dairy fat was not.” (source)
Walt Willet of the Harvard School of Public Health wrote in the American Journal of Medicine, “Diets high in fat do not appear to be the primary cause of the high prevalence of excess body fat in our society, and reductions in fat will not be a solution.” (source)
And finally, Bruce Watkins, professor of lipid chemistry and metabolism at Purdue University, and Bernhard Hennig, professor of cell nutrition at the University of Kentucky say that restricted fat intake in children reduces growth and visual acuity and limits mental development. “For example, omega-3 fatty acids — which come from fish and certain plant oils — are crucial for brain development and for development of the retina,” Watkins says. They say that limiting dietary fat to less than 30 percent of total calories in young children may reduce growth and lead to nutritional shortages. (source)
- cell membranes are 50 % saturated fat
- lung surfactant is made of a specific saturated fat which, if it’s available to the person, prevents asthma and other breathing disorders
- heart muscle cells prefer saturated fat over carbohydrates
- saturated fats are required for bone to assimilate calcium effectively
- they help the liver clear out fat and provide protection from the adverse effects of alcohol and medications like acetaminophen
- medium-chain saturated fats in butter and coconut oil play an important role in the immune system
- they stabilize proteins that enable white blood cells to more effectively recognize and destroy invading viruses, bacteria, and fungi, and also fight tumors
- saturated fatty acids function as signaling messengers for hormone production, including insulin
- they signal satiety
- saturated fats make up 54 % of the fat in mother’s breast milk (monounsaturated fats are 39 %; and polyunsaturated fats, a tiny 3 %)
So my question is, when the USDA states that children under two need fat for the brain and nerve growth but after age two we only need some fat in the diet for our brains, joints and energy – are they even considering the other proven health benefits of saturated fats later in life?
What’s In Low-Fat Milk?
If you were to open a regular carton of low-fat milk and saw a chalky, bluish-white liquid inside, would you offer it to your child with a smile? Well, that’s what many nonfat milks look like before they’re ‘whitened’.
To turn skim milk white, “some companies fortify their product with powdered skim,” says Bob Roberts, a dairy scientist at Penn State. Powdered skim is produced by spraying the liquid under heat and high pressure, a process that oxidizes the cholesterol.
Oxidized cholesterol accelerates atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries — the leading cause of heart attacks, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease). (source) In 1996, Spanish researchers reported that in animal studies oxidized cholesterol triggered a host of biological changes, leading to plaque formation in the arteries and heart disease. “OC’s are mutagenic and carcinogenic,” they wrote.
And we haven’t even dug into the harm that pasteurizing, homogenizing, and adding hormones and antibiotics does to commercialized milk!
A Better Option
While daycare providers are stuck with regulations, you as a parent aren’t. I’d encourage you to seriously reconsider the USDA’s ‘suggested’ guidelines from all angles.
At the very least, swap out the skim, 1%, and 2% milk for whole milk. But even better, consider the benefits of raw milk – lately proven to be safe despite all the misinformation and fear-mongering. You can find sources for raw milk at www.RealMilk.com.
If childhood obesity and weight loss is a concern, cut back on processed foods, sugars, sweets, processed breads and high starchy foods for and replacing them with whole foods like meats, eggs, butter, coconut oil, and fresh green vegetables. (source)
Need recipe ideas? Glad you asked! We have a ton of recipes here at Whole Intentions in the drop down menu at the top of the page. Some of my personal favorites are:
- Baked Oatmeal
- Hamburger Cabbage Casserole
- Coconut Fried Chicken
- Basic Stock-Based Soup
- Buttery Zucchini & Garlic
- Sourdough Pumpkin Bread
- Sugar-Free Ice Cream
Look around for blogs that encourage cooking from scratch and eating whole foods. Here’s a few to get you started:
Add a bit of good, old-fashioned exercise to the mix and you’ll notice a world of difference in your kids. Whether they’re two or thirty-two. 😉