Today’s youth continue to battle obesity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the percentage of obese children in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. Roughly one in five school-age children is obese. Obese children and adults are at a higher risk for chronic health conditions such as asthma, bone and joint problems, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Although many factors can contribute to obesity among children, researchers with the American Academy of Pediatrics are now warning parents that fruit juice can be a contributor. In suggestions that overwrite previous recommendations from 2006 in which the AAP said children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years could have up to 6 ounces of fruit juice a day, fruit juice is no longer recommended for children under the age of 1. Plus, health experts say that older children should choose whole fruit sources in lieu of fruit juices whenever possible.
According to an article “Reducing Childhood Obesity by Eliminating 100% Fruit Juice,” authored by Janet Wojcicki, PhD, MPH and Melvin Heyman, MD, MPH and published in the American Journal of Public Health, excessive fruit juice consumption is associated with increased risk for obesity. There also is recent scientific evidence that sucrose consumption without the corresponding fiber is associated with metabolic syndrome, liver injury and obesity.
Obesity is not the only risk associated with fruit juice. Although fruit juice in moderation can be a nutritious beverage, drinking juice from a bottle can lead to nursing bottle dental caries. Also, “toddler’s diarrhea” has been associated with juice consumption, particularly in juice with a high fructose to glucose ratio, according to data published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
Many health experts are concerned by excessive fruit juice consumption that can lead to an increased caloric intake and obesity.
AAP researchers suggest parents of young children mash up fresh fruit instead of giving them juice. Water, milk and breast milk/formula should be the main liquid for children. Older children can have limited amounts of 100-percent fruit juice, but should be steered toward other low-calorie drinks instead.