By: Lainie Harris, Penfield Children’s Center
Fruit juices are a staple of many young children’s diets. Recently, however, the American Academy of Pediatrics put out new recommendations on juice consumption for infants and children. Health professionals recommend that the intake of juice should be limited to, at most, four ounces per day for toddlers 1 to 3 years of age, and four to six ounces a day for children 4 to 6 years of age. For children 7 to 18 years of age, juice intake should be limited to eight ounces or one cup of the recommended two to two and a half cups of fruit servings per day.
Juice should not be introduced into the diet of infants before 12 months of age, unless clinically indicated by the infant’s primary care provider.
Some researchers say that when a child’s bottle or cup is filled with juice – even the organic, all-natural, no-sugar-added juices, it can be just as harmful as soda. Juice consumption in young children has been linked to some serious child health issues, such as obesity and tooth decay. Nearly one third of all children in America are overweight, and health officials say that juice is one of the culprits.
Juices, both all natural as well as fruit juice cocktails, can add hundreds of excess calories to children’s diets. Some juices have as many as 40 grams of sugar in them, much more than any child should be exposed to. Children should drink water or milk to satisfy their thirst.
Too many sugary juice drinks can lead to:
- Poor nutrition
- Tooth decay
According to USDA data, 60% of 1-year-olds consume juice regularly, averaging 11.5 ounces per day. Juice and other sugary beverages may play a huge part in the growing number of overweight and obese children in America.
Some juice companies may even use advertising to misinform or confuse consumers about their products. They can tell consumers that their juice has “no added sugar,” and the juice may still contain 30 grams of sugar. They may talk about hydration benefits, but water will always be the best hydrator, for both children and adults. According to Dr. David Ludwig, an expert on pediatric obesity at Children’s Hospital Boston, “Children’s diets can be perverted by the unbridled actions of the food industry when it places private profit ahead of public health.”
If you choose to give your child fruit juice, choose 100 percent fruit juice instead of sweetened juice or juice cocktails.
Though small amounts of fruit juice are acceptable for young children, remember that it is always better for them to simply have whole fruit instead! Fresh, whole fruit contains fiber and many helpful vitamins to keep your child healthy.
How do you help your child make healthy food and drink choices?