Milk Wars Transcript with Dr. Neal Barnard
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Up next, a controversy over school lunches erupts. The battle of milk is next — yes, milk. Every parent has to hear this.
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JOHN SALLEY, FORMER NBA PLAYER: It`s funny, they put vegetarian food in front of them when they were hungry. Some of them booed, some of them ahh-ed But at the end of it, they all was fed well.
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ROBIN QUIVERS, HOWARD STERN SHOW: The food industry has done a great job of confusing us as to what food is and what good food is compared to bad food.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, chocolate milk stirs up a controversy around the country. The debate is raging over whether schools should be passing out that sugary beverage to our kids. Some people argue chocolate, strawberry, any flavored milk is not the only way to get calcium and the added sugar in all that flavored milk is out of control, contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic that America is in the throes of right now.
But the National Dairy Council says in the school cafeteria “milk, whether white or flavored, plays a vital role in helping children meet needs for essential nutrients,” end quote. Reports claim about three- quarters of the milk in school cafeterias is flavored, chocolate milk.
Chef and TV star of the ABC show “Jamie Oliver`s Food Revolution”, he was in L.A. to try and take on childhood obesity. Check this out.
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JAMIE OLIVER, CHEF: What I`m going to do right now is I`m going to pump this bus, this icon of trust full of one week`s added sugar just for flavored milk in the LAUSD. This is 100 percent real. This happens every day. This is only a week`s worth and this is actually classic to the whole of America. Guys, you think we`re done? We are done. We are done now.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. That`s going into our kids` bodies, all that sugar. Jamie says 57 tons of sugar in one week pumped into kids, not just in the L.A. school district but this is happening all over the country. And that is just the sugar they are getting from flavored milk alone.
Straight out to the renegade lunch lady, Ann Cooper, glad to see you there in your starched whites. Why are you so upset about schools serving chocolate milk?
ANN COOPER, RENEGADE LUNCH LADY: I mean, we just shouldn`t serve our kids that much sugar. Most chocolate milk has twice as much sugar as the same fat content as regular milk. There`s no reason with this obesity crisis to be force feeding our children sugar.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to bring in Dr. Neal Barnard, the national best-selling author of fantastic book “21-Day Weight Loss Kick Start”. You`re an expert in combating obesity. Now, in your opinion, doctor, is this just about the sugar or the high fructose corn syrup in flavored milk? What about the milk itself? Is the milk itself helping or hurting our children?
DR. NEAL BARNARD, CLINICAL RESEARCHER AND HEALTH ADVOCATE: It`s hurting our kids. And the problems are that kids today are in the worst shape of any generation we`ve ever had. The risk of diabetes, the risk of obesity, the risk of high cholesterol and the heart disease it leads to, they are higher than it has ever been. And a big part of the reason is that schools, sometimes they are forced to — they are feeding junk to kids. It`s as simple as that.
And it`s not just the sugar that`s in the milk. It`s the milk itself, the main nutrient in skim milk, believe it or not, even before you add anything to it, is sugar, lactose sugar. There is fat in it as well. The proteins, a lot of kids don`t react to it. Kids just don`t need it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But what about that calcium argument? And the dairy council talks about that. We got a statement from the dairy council that essentially says that the nutrients that are of public health concern, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium are these essential nutrients found in milk.
BARNARD: Sure, there is a certain amount of calcium in milk but asphalt has calcium in it. There is calcium in so many food; that doesn`t mean you should be eating it. Green leafy vegetables have calcium, beans have calcium; you just don`t need calcium from milk. The vehicle for delivering that little bit of calcium has enough fat, enough calories, enough sugar, enough junk to really put kids at risk. There`s no reason for it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, here`s my take. Ok. I want to do full disclosure to my viewers. I`m a vegan. I do not drink cow`s milk and I have not in at least 15 years.
Now, I want you to meet my great niece, Nicole, she`s 13 1/2 and this young lady has never tasted cow`s milk in her entire life. She is as well a vegan, we have a lot of them in my family. And she`s very tall, very healthy, and doing very well in school. I think she`s living proof that this whole idea that a child, a human child, must have cow`s milk could be a selling tool that we critically need to question.
Now, the National Dairy Council says it`s difficult and expensive to replace the nutrients lost from decreased milk intake in school meals. We just talked about the calcium. But you just heard, Ann Cooper, Dr. Neal Barnard said there`s calcium in plenty of other things that we can get and we`re not suffering from some massive calcium deficiency nationally. So why push it in the milk all the time?
COOPER: Well, I absolutely agree. There is not a calcium crisis in America. There`s an obesity crisis in America. The reason we serve milk in school is because of the National Dairy Council. I mean it`s a lobbying effort.
As a lunch lady, I have to serve milk at every meal. I have to offer it to every kid. You know, and milk can be, I actually think that milk could be part of a healthy diet. But the idea that in schools we would be serving it to kids one, two, sometimes three times a day is —
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hang on. We`re on the other side. We`re getting started.
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SALLEY: It`s funny, they put vegetarian food in front of them when they were hungry. Some of them booed, some of them ahh-ed, but at the end of it, they all was fed well.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. That`s my vegan buddy, NBA great John Salley, we`re back talking about the childhood obesity epidemic and this whole controversy over flavored milk, some kind of chocolate milk, strawberry milk, milk that they serve in schools that critics are saying hey, it`s contributed to the obesity conversation. And we`re actually expanding the conversation to — what about milk in general?
Dr. Neal, here`s my thought and somebody told me this, I didn`t think this up myself. Cow`s milk was meant for cows. We`re the only species, we human beings that steal the mother`s milk from another species and drink it for ourselves. So what does cow`s milk do in terms of how it works on calves and how does that relate to human being?
BARNARD: Yes, well, I think that`s so important. The purpose of milk, if I can put it that way, is not for dunking cookies in it. The purpose of milk is to make a calf grow and so it contains not just calcium and protein at that but it contains hormones. It contains growth factors and it stimulates the production of more hormones and more growth factors in your body.
And you don`t need that, particularly in adulthood where there`s a lot of evidence that men who are drinking milk two or three times a day have more risk of prostate cancer. That`s because the growth in their body is of cancer cells. Now, that`s pretty frightening.
But if you`re looking at kids, kids are drinking milk. They get no advantage for their bones. Back in 2005 pediatrics, an — article in pediatrics showed that kids who never drank milk have just as healthy bones as kids who do. But what they are getting is a lot of fat, a lot of sugar and a lot of health problems.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, here`s my big issue. We have an obesity plague in this country. Obesity is not just an epidemic anymore, it`s a plague. The amount of overweight children in this country is growing at an alarming rate. “Kids` Health” says one out of every three kids in America is overweight or obese.
So, I have to ask you, Ann Cooper, we`re talking about the sugar and now we`re hearing from Dr. Neal and other people say it, even though oh, it`s against that whole mantra about milk does a body good. I think it`s time to question and not just march in lock step and say why this constant drum beat that everybody has to drink milk when nature didn`t design it for human beings, it was designed for calves.
COOPER: Well, you know what; I don`t want to debate whether we should serve milk in schools or not because the U.S. —
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why not? If it`s contributing to kids getting overweight maybe we need start thinking outside the box here.
BARNARD: If you serve chocolate milk it has 150, 200, 220 calories depending on the type. This is a big part of the obesity problem.
COOPER: I absolutely agree with that. I absolutely agree with that. We have to get the flavored milks out of school. If a child chooses flavored milk every day for the 180 days they are in school they will gain 2 1/2 or three pounds just from the added sugar in that chocolate. It`s crazy. We have to stop this.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A lot of people say well, what`s the alternative? And obviously we all know there`s soy milk and there`s rice milk and there`s almond milk. But let`s also question the idea that we all have to be drinking this milky substance. Where did that come from? That`s a cultural invention.
I can wake up and have a green tea in the morning. I don`t necessarily have to have something with milk in it. I can have a piece of fruit. I don`t necessarily have to have something with a dairy product in it. So a lot of what we`re told we have to do is really cultural conditioning.
Final word in a moment.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Change one thing about our school system starting with Ann Cooper, renegade lunch lady.
COOPER: The one thing I would change in our schools is getting ready of the processed food and, oh by the way, chocolate milk, soda and (INAUDIBLE) get it out of schools.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Neal Barnard.
BARNARD: I would base the meals on the healthy foods, the grains, the beans, the vegetables and the fruits. The meats, the dairy products, that`s part of the problem.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you. That`s what I would do if I were in charge of the schools. I would make sure there would be a fruit plate in every single classroom when the kids get the munchies they could reach for a banana or an apple and eat some of this healthy food. You know, some of these kids in the inner-city particularly don`t even know that these vegetables exist because they have choice of fast food or no food at all. Let`s get the healthy food, the greens into the school system.
This is a wake-up call, America. We need to change.
Thank you, fantastic panel.
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