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Pa. pushing low-fat milk

February 07, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - One by one, Jared Faith picked up the paper cups and took a sip, swishing the liquid around in his mouth as if he were at a wine tasting.

"That is 1 percent. ... That is skim," Faith said Monday after tasting the first two milk samples. After he had tasted all four samples of milk, Lola Rigas, a community health nurse with the Franklin County Health Center, gave him the bad news.

"I didn't get any of them right," said Faith, a junior on the Chambersburg High School wrestling team. He and the other wrestlers took part in the blind taste test as part of the Pennsylvania Department of Health's "1% or Less" campaign to encourage people to drink milk lower in fat.

Faith, whose grandparents have a dairy farm, and the other wrestlers shouldn't feel bad. "I only got fat-free right," Franklin County Dairy Princess Melinda Martin said after taking the test.

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"It's very rare they can get all four. You can tell by looking, but not by the taste," said Roberta Shuff, of the Pennsylvania Department of Health's Cardiovascular Risk Reduction Program.

Alice Grofebert, a Department of Health educator, said none of the participants got all four right.

"It all starts to taste the same as you go along," heavyweight wrestler Tyler Hart, a senior, said. He confessed he doesn't know what kind of milk he drinks at home.

That's the point of the program, according to Jan Crudden, executive director of the Healthy Communities Partnership of Franklin County. "It's a good way of cutting the fat content in your diet without even knowing it."

"Poor diets are a major cause of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes," said Ralph A. Moyer Jr., executive director of the South Central District of the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The 1% or Less program is part of the effort to improve those diets.

Crudden said residents of Franklin County and the rest of the state have "a tendency to be overweight and underactive."

A glass of whole milk has 8 grams of fat, compared to 5 grams for 2 percent milk, 2.5 grams for 1 percent and none for skim milk, according to Shuff. Lower fat milk, however, loses none of its calcium and vitamin D, Grofebert said.

The average healthy person should consume between 40 and 60 grams of fat a day, Shuff said. According to a chart she had, a cheeseburger and french fries could have 32 grams or more of fat.

"In one meal you can use up all of your grams of fat for the day," she said.

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