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School milk is vital for children’s development

School milk is vital for children’s development

(Alamy)

3 min read

School milk is a fundamental part of school life and has been for generations of children who have sat down with their friends to enjoy milk during a mid-morning break from lessons.

What has been true for generations is still true today, which is why World School Milk Day today is the perfect time to celebrate the benefits of children drinking healthy and nutritious milk in schools.

The health benefits of children drinking milk at school are enormous and worth reiterating. Cow’s milk provides children with an unparalleled source of nutrients essential for growth and development, including vitamins B2 and B12. Milk is also essential for supporting healthy teeth and bones with the calcium that is vital for attaining optimal peak bone mass during skeletal growth in childhood, and for making young teeth stronger. Evidence also suggests that drinking milk can help combat hunger and fight obesity. 

The nutritional benefits of dairy milk are essential for tackling obesity and improving focus in education settings

Unfortunately, this wonderful tradition of children drinking healthy milk in education settings is now under threat from a number of sources, including rising inflation and the cost of living crisis which are combining to squeeze household budgets.

At present, children in United Kingdom schools and nurseries can access free or subsidised milk through the government’s School Milk Scheme and Nursery Milk Scheme but there are three main issues that need to be tackled.

Firstly, not enough schools and nurseries are currently signed up to these schemes or are unaware of them which means that potentially millions of kids could be missing out on drinking healthy milk.

Secondly, these government schemes may be under threat and we must ensure that the government prioritises school milk provision in the future. We are calling on the government to commit to these schemes so that more children can benefit from nutritious milk or else we risk increased child hunger and poverty, especially amongst poorer children.

Third, the current government schemes are too limited in their scope and only apply to younger children when older school children could also enjoy milk’s health benefits.

The cost of living crisis makes it even more important than ever that the government steps up and guarantees the milk subsidy so that children in poorer households can continue to enjoy the substantial health benefits of milk in schools.

Evidence shows the nutritional benefits of dairy milk are essential for tackling obesity and improving focus in education settings due to its satiating effects, ensuring that children remain focused until reaching lunchtime. This is essential as many poorer students may not have had breakfast before school.

We must ensure that the next generation of children are able to enjoy drinking healthy milk at school. The health, developmental, social and nutritional benefits are enormous. It is our responsibility to do all we can to ensure that children are able to enjoy those benefits whilst in education settings. 

World School Milk Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the health benefits of drinking milk in schools, and also to recognise that more work needs to be done to ensure that future generations of school children are also able to benefit in the future.

 

Dr Hilary Jones is a GP, TV presenter, medical broadcaster, author and public speaker.

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