World School Milk Day became an international holiday in 2000 and is supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This initiative has a number of important objectives, among them - strengthening the health of the younger generation, the formation of school-age children conscious attitude to healthy eating, attracting public attention to the needs of the developing child body and promoting the regular provision of schoolchildren with milk as a supplementary food.
World School Milk Day is traditionally celebrated on the last Wednesday of September. The end of the month was chosen because the school year has already begun for school children in most countries of the world.
140 million children all over the world have already joined the School Milk Programme; in Russia
the number of programme participants is over 19.6 million.
Olga Panova, Head of School Milk program in the Russian Federation, resident of the Union "Health of Our Children" notes that the uniqueness of the program is that it works in several directions: it helps improve health of the rising generation, forms conscious attitude to healthy nutrition and is a good tool to support the agro-industrial complex.
- The program is a good tool for support and development of dairy industry of RF constituent entities, it promotes revival of milk consumption culture and on the other hand it promotes formation of a permanent sales channel for milk processing enterprises, - says Olga Panova.
It is estimated that in the U.S. almost 30 million students eat school lunch and 14.6 million eat school breakfast every day. An integral part of those lunches and breakfasts is milk.
According to Shana Eborn, an American journalist, teacher and mother of two, children who refuse to eat school meals often buy only school milk in educational institutions. In 2011, Los Angeles banned flavored milk because of its high sugar content; the ban was lifted five years later, intending to encourage children to drink more milk. Today, nonfat, low-sugar, flavored milk for children is being actively promoted in the United States.
- Milk is the number one source of nine essential vitamins and minerals in children's diets, and when its consumption drops, the overall nutrition of children in America is compromised, says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.
The habit of drinking milk for people in much of the world is part of history. If archaeologists are to be believed, even 6,000 years ago, farmers in northern Europe and Great Britain kept cows and actively developed dairy farming.
Milk and children naturally go together. But should children drink milk? For every argument in favor of a positive answer to this question, dairy antagonists name a counterargument. Researchers, in turn, voice a number of facts.
1. For children, the delightful taste of milk with a warm chocolate chip cookie is reason enough to drink it, but there are a number of other factors that speak in favor of a glass of milk. According to the National Institutes of Health, milk contains a number of nutrients that are good for a child's body that are difficult to get from other foods.
For example, yogurt and cheese are an important source of calcium, providing 30% of the daily requirement in a serving. However, a serving of broccoli will only provide 2% of the daily requirement of calcium, while a serving of salmon will provide 18%. You will need to eat a lot of broccoli to get enough calcium. In addition, milk contains proteins, which are essential to the brain. And for a young child, 2 glasses of milk is enough to provide the daily norm of these proteins.
At the same time, dairy drinks contain much less sugar and do not need to be enriched with vitamins as plant analogues.
2. Milk is not meant for human nutrition, say its opponents.
Biologically speaking, drinking milk is not natural. Professors at Harvard Medical School recently pointed out in the journal JAMA Pediatrics that "humans have no nutritional need for animal milk, which from an evolutionary perspective is a recent addition to the diet." They also noted that many of the world's cultures exclude milk from their menus for health or personal reasons and suffer no ill effects.
In Russia, Europe, the United States, traditionally dairy regions recognize certain restrictions on consumption. But they are most often due to lactase deficiency or allergies and their share relative to total consumption is small, in turn, the dairy industry actively offers lactose-free products. People with milk protein allergies, on the other hand, refuse to consume them.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the only milk a child should receive during the first year of life is breast milk, which has certain nutrients that a child needs. At the same time, U.S. and Canadian health agencies emphasize that two cups of milk a day for children is optimal for a healthy diet.
3 Milk provides well-absorbed vitamin D.
While children used to spend most of their free time during the day playing in the yard, wandering around the neighborhood or in the park, today children spend more time indoors. Up to 40 percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient, Stanford scientists say. One serving of milk provides a significant amount of children's and adults' vitamin D needs while being well absorbed by the body.
4. Milk helps children grow up. Parents who give their children soy and nut milk for health or other reasons may find that their children are not as tall as those who drink animal milk. A Canadian study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that children who drank cow's milk-free drinks were shorter than children who consumed regular milk.
5. Milk can reverse dementia.
Although more analyses and comprehensive factor studies have yet to be done in this area, at least one study suggests that consumption of milk and dairy products may be associated with a lower risk of developing dementia. Researchers who studied a cohort of the elderly Japanese population found that those who consumed more milk and dairy products were less likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer's disease.
At the same time, nutritionists caution against excessive consumption of milk in children who drink it frequently, and then refuse to eat foods rich in iron. Calcium impairs iron absorption, exacerbating the problem.
In either case, the choice is left to the parents. Consuming a normal amount of milk shows clear health benefits all over the world; children who do not or cannot drink milk can get their nutrients from tofu, beans, vegetables, or vitamin supplements. The most important thing is to make an informed decision and drink your glass of milk or eat a serving of broccoli.
It is worth noting that even in countries like China or Japan, the authorities actively support the consumption of dairy products. You can read more in the article on the history of the School Milk Program.