PARENTS have launched a bid to scrap a new law that bans every school pupil in the country from drinking full-fat milk.
They say parents – rather than the state – should decide what their children drink in school.
A Scottish Government directive, being phased in at all primary and secondary schools, prevents pupils from drinking the "high-calorie" milk recommended by health visitors and midwives for generations, replacing it with the semi-skimmed variety.
Angry members of Aberlady Parent Council, in East Lothian, have submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament, to be heard next month, after a storm of criticism from health experts, who claim the government's healthy-eating drive is excessive. They say young children are being denied the essential fats they need as part of their development.
Donna Mathieson, 41, one of the parents behind the action, said: "It's taking away parental choice.
"Our petition is calling for the guidelines to be amended so that councils can revert to full-fat milk."
Describing the legislation as "ludicrous", the mother of two said pupils were routinely offered fruit-flavoured milk, which is high in sugar.
"It's crazy that we can't have full-fat milk but the kids can have flavoured rubbish. It's not a healthy alternative at all."
The Scotsman has learned that children as young as three have been banned from drinking full-fat milk in some nurseries – breaching the government's own guidelines, which state all dairy products must be made from whole milk.
Dr Rafe Bundy, a lecturer in nutrition at Glasgow University, said full-fat milk contained only about 4 per cent fat and was actually a low-fat food.
The Scottish Government's decision on milk is part of a range of measures designed to improve the diet of children, amid fears of an obesity crisis.
Under the Schools Health Promotion and Nutrition Scotland Act, primary schools were told to offer at least two portions of fruit and vegetables every lunchtime and to limit deep-fried food to three items per week. Sweets and fizzy drinks were also removed from schools and chips are only to be served as part of an overall balanced and nutritional meal.
Ministers are under pressure to tackle the country's obesity crisis. A report from the Scottish Public Health Observatory said obesity among adults had risen by 46 per cent since 1995. One in five primary seven children was estimated to be obese in 2004-5.
A spokeswoman for the National Farmers' Union Scotland said: "Any inference that milk is unhealthy is unfair. Milk is a very healthy product."
The Scottish Government said the aim of the legislation was to help children achieve a balanced diet.