27 Sep 2017 Guest Blog: World School Milk Day 2017
Erica Hocking is the Senior Nutrition Scientist at The Dairy Council and a registered Public Health Nutritionist with a special interest in children’s nutrition.
As pupils settle into school after the summer break, The Dairy Council is reminding parents, teachers and pupils that the nutrients in milk, and dairy foods generally, can play an important role in a child’s growth and development. On World School Milk Day (Wednesday 27th September) schools across the country are invited to celebrate the benefits of school milk with The Dairy Council.
World School Milk Day, created by The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation in 2000, raises awareness of the benefits of school milk programmes around the globe. It is celebrated in over 25 countries and provides an important opportunity to focus our attention on milk, with a special emphasis on the nutritional benefits for children.
In the UK, our history of school milk spans back over 100 years to the 1906 Provision of Meals Act. The Act recognised that school meals, including milk, could be provided to help improve nutrition after it was identified that good nutrition can help improve learning. In 1945 parliament passed the Free School Milk Act to give every child aged up to 18 years the right to a third of a pint every day. Today, school milk continues to play an important role in our children’s health.
Why is milk so important for children?
Children need to get lots of nutrients and energy from their food to support rapid growth and development; their requirements are higher in relation to their body size than adults. As such, nutrient-rich foods, such as milk and dairy, are an important part of a healthy balanced diet.
Survey data shows that milk and dairy foods contribute more calcium and iodine to the UK diet than other food groups. Calcium and protein are needed for growth and development of bone, and iodine is important for growth and brain development in children. And, that’s not all that’s in a carton of milk.
A 189ml carton of semi-skimmed milk is a source of phosphorus, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and vitamin B12. It provides 42% of a 7-10 year olds recommended calcium intake, 24% of their recommended protein intake and 52% of their recommended iodine intake. Milk is also a good source of fluid and great for quenching thirst and helping children stay hydrated.
Children’s dental health is a real concern across the UK, and what they eat and drink in between meals can affect their teeth. Frequent consumption of sugary foods and drinks can contribute to the buildup of plaque, which produces acid that attacks the teeth, and can lead to tooth decay. Dentists recommend that sugary foods and drinks are kept to meals times only. Milk and water are the only drinks recommended by dentists for between meals.
To celebrate World School Milk Day this year, The Dairy Council is launching a ‘Milk Memo’ campaign and giving away £250 worth of outdoor games for teachers and pupils to enjoy. The campaign is aimed at getting schools involved in World School Milk Day and teaches pupils about the nutritional benefits of drinking the white stuff. Find out more via http://www.milkhub.uk/.
The Dairy Council is a non-profit organisation, staffed by registered nutritionists and dietitians, who provide information on the nutritional benefits of milk and dairy foods as part of a healthy balanced and sustainable diet.