Pediatricians are now recommending, under new guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), that parents should not give fruit juice to kids younger than one year old. The new guidelines further strongly suggest that children who are older should also not over consume fruit juice.
Instead, they should eat fresh fruit and vegetables, which will provide fiber and will not contribute as much to potential tooth decay and cavities as fruit juice. The new guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics were published on May 22 in Pediatrics.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should resist drinking fruit juice and should, instead, reach for a fruit. If that is not enough to satisfy both a child’s thirst, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends washing the fruit down with a glass of water.
According to the Los Angeles Times, fruit juice has some good things going for it, including providing vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium. Antioxidants, which can aid in preventing cardiovascular disease and cancer, are also found in fruit juice.
Fruits, however, also have these benefits, with the added benefit of fiber. Fiber aids in helping keep one’s blood sugar under control, cleans a person’s colon and helps to reduce cholesterol. Because it takes longer to eat a piece of fruit than it does to consume a glass of fruit juice, which contains more calories, eating fruit can also help keep unwanted weight gain in check.
According to pediatricians, fruit juice is not “the nutritional equivalent” of eating fruit. When younger kids carry around sippy cups filled with fruit juice, or drink fruit juice from a bottle, their teeth are exposed to carbohydrates in the juice, which can result in cavities.
The Academy’s stance against overindulging in fruit juice is clear and succinct. On Monday, it issued a position statement declaring that there is “no nutritional advantage” that fruit juice has when compared to eating “whole fruit.” The Academy further declared that fruit juice does not have any sort of “essential role” when it comes to providing children with healthy and balanced diets.
For the first six months of an infant’s life, the only things that the baby should drink are “breast milk or infant formula.” Even when they are six months to a year old, breast milk, water or formula should, generally speaking, be the only substances an infant should drink. If they are given fruit juice, it should be in a cup, not a bottle, and the amount of fruit juice given should be limited to 4 ounces a day.
For toddlers and children between the ages of 1 and 3, the most fruit juice allowed per day should be just 4 ounces. For kids whose ages range from 4 to 6 years old, they should be limited to drinking 6 ounces of fruit juice a day. By age 7, children should not drink more than 8 ounces of fruit juice a day, according to the Academy’s guidelines.
According to the Sioux City Journal, the update in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ stance on consuming fruit juice is the first one made in 16 years.
Some studies have found an association between childhood obesity and drinking 12 or more ounces of fruit juice per day. However, other studies have found that children who consume more fruit juice actually “had lower BMIs than kids who drank less juice.” There might be an association or link between childhood obesity and drinking a lot of fruit juice, but more research is needed to confirm any such association or possible link.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the lead author of the new AAP guidelines, Dr. Steven Abrams, stated that a child’s overall sugar intake is less when a piece of fruit is eaten in comparison to drinking a glass of fruit juice. Abrams said that the AAP wants children “to learn how to eat fresh foods.”
The doctor also said that when it comes to fruit juice, “There’s no evidence there’s any health benefit.” He did say, though, that kids could drink some fruit juice as a part of a healthy diet, but he added, “water and milk are preferable.”
By John Samuels