by Marion Nestle
Aug 16 2022
Sugar in school meals? Lots.
At the request of Congress, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has just released “Added Sugars in School Meals and Competitive Foods.” The report itself is at this link.
The idea was to find out whether schools were meeting the 10% standard: meals and snacks were not to exceed 10% of calories from added sugars.
Note: the 10% is meant to be a ceiling, not a floor.
The report’s Key Findings
- Practically all—92%—of school breakfasts had 10% or more of calories from added sugars.
- The majority of schools—69%—served lunches with 10% percent or more calories from added sugars.
- The main source of added sugars in school meals is flavored (e.g., chocolate) fat-free milk; this contributed 29% of the added sugars in breakfasts and 47% in lunches.
- Of the 10 most popular a la carte food items available at breakfast, 6 exceeded the 10% maximum for added sugars.
- Of the 10 most popular a la carte food items available at lunch, four exceeded the 10% maximum.
Mind you, this says nothing about sweet snacks and candy used as rewards, treats, snacks, or celebrations in classrooms.
But if you want to know why nutritionists like me would like to see chocolate milk mostly kept out of schools, here’s why.