1. The sugar listed on the Nutrition Facts panel of milk is the total sugar which includes the naturally occurring sugar (lactose) in milk as well as added sugar.
2. The amount of added sugar in chocolate milk can vary depending on the brand of chocolate milk so you may see 8- 12 grams (and sometimes more) of added sugar. One (level) tsp of sugar = 4 gram of sugar = 15 calories. So if chocolate milk has 12 g added sugar that's 45 additional calories from sugar.
3. If you compare milk with sweetened soda ( in which all of the calories are from added sugar), a flavored milk is definitely a better choice.
While milk, including flavored milk, is a nutrient dense beverage that contains protein, potassium, calcium, and vitamin D; health experts have a concern about children developing a taste for sweetened beverages if this is all that is offered. For children over the age of 5, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other health organizations recommend plain milk (or soy beverage), water or limited amounts of 100% fruit juices.
Chocolate milk should be seen as a treat and not a staple beverage. If you are able to make your own chocolate milk at home with powder or syrup or by mixing plain milk with flavored milk you can control and reduce the amount of added sugar.
Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN
Ingles Markets Corporate Dietitian