WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- As families gather back around the dinner table, what was once a staple of the meal -- milk -- might be hard to find. Over the past decade, milk at dinner has steadily declined and today nearly 60 percent of children's dinners do not include milk, according to new findings from The NPD Group.(1) Conversely, nearly one-third of all kids' meals are served with a soft drink or fruit drink -- beverages that are often loaded with sugar and missing important nutrients. The percentage of overweight American children and teens has tripled in the last two decades and a recent report called What America Drinks(2) suggests that beverage choice may impact weight and the overall quality of the diet. Because of these findings, health experts like registered dietitian Jodie Shield are joining the nationwide Think About Your Drink campaign to urge parents to think about what's filling their children's glasses and make milk the "official drink of the family." "As parents, it's important for us to realize that beverage choice may play a part in the fight against raising overweight, yet undernourished kids," said Shield. "And, family dinner is a great place to start. By swapping your child's soft drink for milk, you boost vital nutrients many kids are missing." Choosing milk at your next family dinner can have a real nutrition impact. At a typical meal served with a regular soft drink that includes spaghetti with a side of broccoli, fruit and bread, you get only 120mg of the recommended 1,000mg of calcium a day. By swapping fat free milk for that soft drink you boost calcium to 420mg, which is a 250 percent increase. Likewise, you increase vitamin D by 625 percent, and potassium and magnesium by around 30 percent. Plus, you skip six teaspoons of sugar.(3) Additionally, choosing lowfat or fat free milk may help keep your family at a healthy weight. Research shows drinking the recommended three servings of lowfat or fat free milk everyday is an important part of a healthy diet for parents and their kids, and may also contribute toward maintaining a healthy weight.(4-9) Back to School, Back to Family Dinner With Americans currently consuming two to three times the amount of sweetened beverages as they do milk, dinner is an important meal for parents to help control what their kids are drinking. Research shows that the more often a family eats together, the more likely their kids will choose calcium-rich drinks such as milk and shy away from nutrient-void sodas.(10) "Not only does eating dinner together promote family bonding," said Dr. Ari Brown, M.D., FAAP for the American Academy of Pediatrics, "but eating family meals promotes positive nutrition habits for kids." Plus, eating dinner together might be an important meal to help keep kids at a healthy weight. Research shows that families who eat together may be less likely to have kids who are overweight.(11,12) Like Mother, Like Daughter Parents play an important role in keeping their family healthy and helping their children make positive choices. In fact, studies on mothers and daughters show that moms' own food choices may be more influential than any other attempt to control their daughters' food intake.(13) A mother's decision to drink milk more frequently and to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains is likely to influence her daughter's choices.(14-16) "If we as parents don't practice what we preach, we end up sending our children and teens mixed messages," said Brown. "When you drink a glass of milk instead of soda, they will catch on." Think About Your Drink Family Challenge As part of the nationwide Think About Your Drink education campaign, the nation's milk processors are encouraging families to make milk their beverage of choice by launching the Think About Your Drink Family Challenge which will reward 25 families for choosing milk more often. Entering the nationwide contest is easy -- just snap a photo of your family choosing milk or donning the famous Milk Mustache and upload it to www.thinkaboutyourdrink.com before August 31, 2007. Entrants will qualify for a chance to win great prizes like a family trip to Disney World(R), nutritious meals prepared by a personal chef or a Family Circle cookbook. Also visit www.thinkaboutyourdrink.com for tools to help you and your loved ones make better beverage choices. You can get a free, personalized nutrition analysis of your daily drinks and see how beverage choice can impact the nutrition of a typical family dinner. The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), Washington, D.C., is funded by the nation's milk processors, who are committed to increasing fluid milk consumption. The MilkPEP Board runs the national Milk Mustache "got milk?" Campaign, a multi-faceted campaign designed to educate consumers about the health benefits of milk. For more information, go to www.thinkaboutyourdrink.com. The tagline "got milk?"(R) was created for the California Milk Processor Board by Goodby Silverstein & Partners and is licensed by the national milk processor and dairy producer groups. (1) NPD Group, National Eating Trends 2007 (2) What America Drinks is a comprehensive analysis of U.S. beverage consumption that was conducted by ENVIRON International Corporation. The report analyzed data from more than 10,000 Americans ages 4 and older who participated in the government's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2000 and 2001-2002 and provided reasonable dietary reports of food/beverage intakes. Relationships between selected patterns of beverage use, nutrient intakes and body mass index (BMI) were examined. (3) Based on USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference 19 (4) Moore LL, Bradlee LM, Gao DI, Singer M. Low dairy intake in early childhood predicts excess body fat gain. Obesity. 2006;14:1010-1018. (5) Novotny R, Daida YG, Acharya S, Grove JS, Vogt TM. Dairy intake is associated with lower body fat and soda intake with greater weight in adolescent girls. Journal of Nutrition. 2004;134:1905-1909. (6) Phillips SM, Bandini LG, Cyr H, Colclough-Douglas S, Naumava E, Must A. Dairy food consumption and body weight and fatness studied longitudinally over the adolescent period. International Journal of Obesity. 2003;27:1106-1113. (7) Teegarden D. The influence of dairy product consumption on body composition. Journal of Nutrition. 2005; 135:2749-2752. (8) Zemel MB, Thompson W, Milstead A, Morris K, Campbell P. Calcium and dairy acceleration of weight and fat loss during energy restriction in obese adults. Obesity Research. 2004. 12(4): 582-590. (9) Melanson EL, Donahoo WT, Dong F, Ida T, Zemel MB. Effect of low- and high-calcium dairy-based diets on macronutrient oxidation in humans. Obesity Research. 2005;13:2102-12. (10) Neumark-Sztainer D, Hannan PJ, Story M, Croll J, Perr C. Family meal patterns: Associations with sociodemographic characteristics and improved dietary intake among adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2003;103:317-322. (11) Sen B. Frequency of family dinner and adolescent body weight status: evidence from the national longitudinal survey of youth, 1997. Obesity. 2006;14:2266-76. (12) Taveras EM, Rifas-Shiman SL, Berkey CS, Rochett HRH, Field AE, Frazier AL, Colditz GA, Gillman MW. Family dinner and adolescent overweight. Obesity Research. 2005;13:900-906. (13) Lee Y, Birch LL. Diet quality, nutrient intake, weight status, and feeding environments of girls meeting or exceeding the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for total dietary fat. Minerva Pediatrica. 2002;54:179-186. (14) Galloway AT, Fiorito LM, Francis LA, Birch LL. Finish your soup: Counterproductive effects of pressuring children to eat on intake and affect. Appetite. 2006;46:318-323. (15) Johnson RK, Panely CV, Wang MQ. Associations between the milk mothers drink and the milk consumed by their school-aged children. Family Economics and Nutrition Review 2001;13:27-36. (16) Birch LL, Lee Y. Family Influences: Mothers' and daughters' use of multivitamin-mineral supplements. Nutrition Today. 2002;37:173-174.
SOURCE The Milk Processor Education Program