Kid Stuff

The 1% Or Less School Kit

A new kit from CSPI addresses the number one source of saturated fat in children’s diets

Reducing the total-fat and saturated-fat intake of children is a national health priority. Although whole and 2% milk are leading sources of total and saturated fat in children’s diets, two out of three children who drink milk with school lunch choose whole or 2% milk. Promoting 1% and fat-free milk in schools is an important strategy for reducing children’s saturated-fat intake and promoting their health.

 This new education kit from CSPI can help school food service personnel, teachers, and health educators motivate school children and their families to choose 1% or fat-free milk. The 1% Or Less School Kit describes how to plan and implement a school-based nutrition education campaign using materials such as fact sheets, classroom activity sheets, peer education groups, and visual displays about the amount of fat in milk.

Heart disease may not show up until adulthood, but the beginnings of clogged arteries, an early sign of heart disease, are seen in children as young as 10 years old!

  • The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that school-age children choose a diet low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
  • Almost everyone likes the taste of low-fat milk. In blind taste tests of more than 1900 children and adults, CSPI found that 95% liked the taste of 1% or fat-free (skim) milk.
  • Whole and 2% milk are leading sources of artery-clogging saturated fat in the diets of American children and adults. Saturated fat is a major contributor to heart disease — the number one killer of American men and women.
  • One cup of whole milk has as much artery clogging saturated fat as one hot dog, 5 strips of bacon, a Snickers candy bar, or a fast food hamburger!
  • 2% milk is not low fat. One cup has as much heart-unhealthy fat as 3 strips of bacon. Only 1% and fat-free milk are low fat.
  • Children who drink 1 cup of 1% milk instead of 2% milk during the school day would cut almost 19 pounds of fat from their diet during their 13 years of school.
  • Switching to 1% or fat-free milk is one of the easiest ways for children to get the calcium and vitamin D they need, while reducing their saturated-fat intake and heart-disease risk.

Healthy eating patterns in childhood and adolescence promote optimal child health and help prevent immediate health problems, such as obesity, and long-term health problems, such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke.

Conducting a 1% Or Less campaign in your school not only promotes students’ health but also is a lot of fun. It is inspiring to see students become involved in promoting the health of their families and friends, and gratifying to see your efforts result in measurable improvements in eating habits.

The 1% Or Less School Kit describes how to plan and implement a school-based, nutrition-education campaign. It includes a variety of materials to choose from — to help you plan a program that meets the needs of your students.

The first step is to make sure school cafeterias serve “1% or less.” If 2% milk is the only lower-fat, unflavored milk served, encourage your school to offer 1% milk in its place.

The 1% Or Less School Kit contains materials for both primary and secondary school students, including:

  • Strategies for marketing low-fat milk to students;
  • A model press release to promote your 1% Or Less program;
  • Signs to hang in cafeteria dairy cases to encourage students to choose low-fat milk;
  • Instructions for conducting milk taste tests;
  • Instructions for constructing visual displays to encourage students to switch to low-fat milk;
  • Ideas for using peer education to promote low-fat milk to middle and high school students;
  • Activity sheets for primary school students to incorporate the 1% Or Less message into other class lessons;
  • Model fact sheets and handouts for parents of primary school students to encourage students to choose low-fat milk; and
  • Model handouts for secondary school students to encourage them to choose low-fat milk.