07/07/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Chocolate Flavored Toddler Formula. Yikes!


Yes, I did not make this up. There is such a thing as chocolate toddler formula.

It's a product created by Mead-Johnson's Enfagrow. The Premium Chocolate Toddler Formula has "natural and artificial flavors" and is specifically made for toddlers age 12 to 36 months. It's for fussy eaters, to make "sure" they get the nutrition that they need.

Parents have it hard. Try walking a toddler down a grocery store isle. Little ones shout out for the Dora yogurt, the Disney Princess crackers and the multicolored Goldfish. Now, they want to get kids hooked even earlier, before they can talk, on chocolate and sugar? Sugar and cocoa are two of the prime ingredients. Don't worry, they have vanilla too if your infant isn't a chocolate fan.

Should products like this be allowed on the market? This is a heated debate amongst the warriors of childhood obesity (Jamie Oliver, Michele Obama, Dr. David Ludwig etc.) and adult obesity. Jamie Oliver on the Food Revolution tried to get flavored, sugary milk (strawberry and chocolate) out of schools. The chocolate milk had more sugar than a soda. I imagine he would not be thrilled about this.

Some say that we have a responsibility to fill grocery store shelves with healthy options and to get rid of toxic foods (think trans-fat) and other chemically processed foods. Kelly D. Brownell, is a Yale professor, who coined the phrase "toxic food environment" in his book, Food Fight: the Inside Story of the Food Industry."

It's pretty safe to say that chocolate toddler formula would be part of this "toxic environment" which is described as "high-calorie, high-fat, heavily marketed, inexpensive, and readily accessible foods." "Brownell and many of his colleagues attribute the nation's obesity epidemic to the toxic environment."

Others would argue that it is the job of the parents and consumers to choose foods wisely. They argue for food freedom -- that you should be free to feed yourself and your kids whatever you want. And that as a industry you should be at liberty to make whatever you want and let the consumer decide.

I wrote about a similiar issue a few weeks ago announcing the release of the new Double Down Kentucky Fried Chicken sandwich, with two pieces of meat and no bun. Everyday we are faced with new food choices that challenge the way we eat. With new products like this constantly coming out we can see it geting harder and harder for people to make sound, healthy choices. We think, "how bad can it be if it is on the shelves at the grocery store?"

Regardless of where you stand, hopefully, many parents are going to save the chocolate milk for a treat. What will they think of next?

By Dr. Susan Albers, psychologist and author of Eating Mindfully, 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, Eat, Drink & Be Mindful, Mindful Eating 101.