Parents may be surprised to hear that 100 percent fruit juice has the same potential harmful effects as soft drinksA study published in the journal Pediatric Obesity in 2015 concluded that children who regularly consumed 100 percent fruit juice at two years of age had a higher risk of becoming overweight by four years of age compared to those who infrequently drank or did not drink 100 percent fruit juice.
This is very relevant as we now recognize that overweight children tend to become overweight adults. That means that the old assumption that 100 percent fruit juice is better than fruit drinks and soft drinks is now in question.
Intuitively, we may think that 100 percent fruit juice is healthy and just as good as eating the solid fruit when it comes to counting the daily servings of fruits and vegetables. However, eating fruit is actually better than drinking fruit juice. Here are some other relevant facts:
- Fruit juice contains less fibre than the solid fruit, so children may not feel as satisfied after drinking juice and still be hungry.
- In fruit juice, sugar is the only source of calories which may still leave a child hungry as compared to ingesting foods with protein and fat.
- Obesity risks may be higher when drinking fruit juice with snacks. After drinking juice, children may still be hungry and tend to eat more snacks, increasing their overcall calorie intake.
- Fruit juice typically does not include the skin of the fruit that contains antioxidants thought to lower the risk of cancer.
More Facts About Fruit Juice
Fruit juices contain water, sugars such as sucrose, fructose, glucose, and sorbitol, and a small amount of protein and minerals. While some juices naturally contain high levels of minerals and vitamins, others are fortified with vitamin C. Although drinking juice may have some benefits, there are some potential problems. These include high sugar content that contributes to increased calorie intake and the risk of dental cavities, as well as the lack of protein and fibre in juice. Here are some highlights from the latest American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement:
- Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits for infants younger than one year of age.
- Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits over whole fruit and has no essential role in healthy, balanced diets of children.
- One hundred percent fresh or reconstituted fruit juice can be a healthy part of the diet in children older than one year as part of a well-balanced diet (provided that the daily consumption does not exceed the recommended amounts outlined below).
- Fruit drinks are not nutritionally equivalent to fruit juice and should be avoided.
- Juices should not be used to treat diarrhea or dehydration.
- Excessive juice consumption can cause over-nutrition or under-nutrition, diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal discomfort, and tooth decay.
- Provided in the appropriate amounts for a child’s age, fruit juices are not likely to cause any significant problems.
Fruit juice intake guidelines
- Juice should not be introduced infants before 12 months of age
- For children 1 to 3 years old, juice intake should be limited to 4 ounces per day
- For children 4 to 6 years old, juice in take should be limited to 4 to 6 ounces per day
- For children 7 to 18 years old, juice intake should be limited to 8 ounces (1 cup) per day.
- AAP recommendations, May 2017
Tips on giving fruit juice to kids
- Avoid giving toddlers juice from bottles or easily transportable covered cups that allow them to consume juice easily throughout the day.
- Do not give juice to toddlers at bedtime.
- Encourage children to eat whole fruit to meet their recommended daily fruit intake.
- Do not give unpasteurized juices to infants, children, and adolescents.
- Avoid giving grapefruit juice to children taking certain medications including: ibuprofen, warfarin, phenytoin, fluvastatin, and amitriptyline. Speak to your healthcare provider for more specific details.