For years we have been lead to believe that low fat, sugar free and diet foods are healthier alternatives for you and your family. When you see these food industry phrases attached to food it should sound off an alarm! These industry phrases are a clear indication that these products are heavily processed. While these products may have initially resembled real food they have been stripped down and re-engineered into something that can best be described as food-like.
Consider the sugar free or reduced calorie label, this usually means the product contains an artificial sweetener such as aspartame. It is added to replace table sugar in order to reduce calories (because it’s calorie free) while also preserving sweetness. Less sugar and calories is a good thing right? Not in this case. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame have been clearly associated with several diseases. And they also don’t help with weight loss in fact they may contribute to weight gain. This is due mainly to altering your bodies natural satiety signaling. In other words when you eat or drink something sweet your body expects calories to be attached to it and when that doesn’t happen it doesn’t cue your body when you’ve had enough leading to over-indulgence. 
So you might be asking how did these essentially toxic sweeteners ever hit the market? Well it’s all based on “junk science” and industry half-truths. Consider that most studies that cleared these products were conducted on animals and not humans. All animals EXCEPT HUMANS have a protective mechanism that allows methanol (the by-product of aspartame) to be broken down into harmless formic acid.  Another “trick” is to conduct short-term human studies. The human body is very resilient and tends to hold up without any noticeable changes (except for gas and diarrhea, but apparently these symptoms aren’t a big deal to the FDA) even when exposed to toxic substances over an acute period of time. However one recent long-term human study revealed a clear association between aspartame consumption and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in men and leukemia in both sexes.
It is best to avoid these substances for optimal health, as they are pervasive in many of the foods that we eat, the obvious being chewing gum and soda and less obvious yogurt. And if your job as a parent wasn’t hard enough the dairy industry is pushing for approval to use these chemicals in milk and 17 other dairy products, without having to label it. 
The dairy industry states that labeling would put them at a competitive disadvantage because claims such as “reduced calorie” are not attractive to children and have led to an overall decline in milk consumption in schools. Essentially, as with the GMO labeling issue, they don’t want you or your child to be “confused” or perhaps “scared away” by truthful labeling...
They also state that consumers generally don’t recognize milk — including flavored milk — as necessarily containing sugar. Therefore, since you don’t realize that flavored milk might contain added sugar, sweetening the product with non-nutritive artificial sweeteners, while listing it as simply “milk” on the label, will make it easier for you to identify its overall nutritional value.
We should trust our children’s instincts on this matter! While milk does indeed contain sugars (lactose) they are natural occurring and when consumed in their total package supply beneficial nutrients like protein. Flavored milk should be avoided, as it is full of corn syrup and stabilizers. You are better off making your own flavored milk using cocoa powder, frozen bananas and/or strawberries and sweeten with a touch of pure stevia (without additives like maltodextrin or lactose).
Your best source of milk and dairy would come ideally from a small local farmer that pasture raises their cows. The dairy industries products are heavily processed, likely laden with hormones and antibiotics and fed with genetically engineered corn and soy. Pure wholesome milk may do a body good but most milk in the store is nothing more than an industrial cocktail.
Speaking of industry cocktails…
The Coca-Cola Company is joining forces with the dairy industry to bring us the much anticipated (giant sarcasm alert!) “Energy Milk” called Core Power. The Coca-Cola Company and Select Milk Producers, Inc. (Select) are announcing the acquisition of equity stakes in the newly-created Fair Oaks Farms Brands, LLC to drive growth and expansion of Core Power® and to create an innovative portfolio of brands and products that feature the value-added nutrition of dairy. 
When I checked into this the web site for Fair Oaks Farms touts their code of sustainability, transparency and animal care. However, there is no mention of their relationship with Coca Cola. Maybe it’s a just a simple oversight or possibly they aren’t to keen on promoting their end of the relationship. Good business deals no doubt for both sides but for you and your family definitely another highly processed drink you should think twice before consuming. One serving is loaded with 7 teaspoons of sugar, has Green Tea Extract (caffeine), and highly processed low-fat milk that is stabilized and preserved with 13 letter word ingredients. This is what drives me crazy about the processed food industry they take advantage of the consumers long held belief that dairy is a wholesome food then process it to death and add back in inferior nutrients and slap an attractive label on it with wild claims. Consider this claim on the web site referring to its chocolate flavored beverage:
Rich in antioxidants, cocoa derived from dark chocolate promotes alertness, lessens pain and promotes well-being. 
Unprocessed dark chocolate may provide many benefits including those touted by this product. The only problem is this product contains highly processed chocolate with little if any nutritional benefit. No doubt the company knows this but chooses to deceive the customer anyway. Bottom line is this is not a milk product it is nothing more than a highly processed sugary drink.
The food industry understands that when you know what is in a product you will likely avoid it and this is why they are lobbying the government to hide what is really in their junk. We simply cannot leave the health of our families in the hands of the government and the food industry. Your best strategy to provide your family with nutritious food is to purchase whole foods and cook and prepare them from scratch. This is clearly the only way to truly know what you are eating.
Youth Fitness/Nutrition Specialist
The FDA is currently accepting public comments on the petition by the dairy industry to add artificial sweeteners to dairy products without labeling. You have until May 21st, 2013 to submit your comments if you feel compelled to do so.