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-aged 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 replace previous recommendations from 2006 in which the American Academy of Pediatrics said children between the ages of six months and six years could have up to six ounces of fruit juice a day, fruit juice is no longer recommended for children under the age of one. Plus, health experts say that older children should choose whole fruit instead of fruit juices whenever possible.
According to an article “Reducing Childhood Obesity by Eliminating 100 [percent] Fruit Juice,” authored by Janet Wojcicki, PhD, MPH and Melvin Heyman, MD, MPH wand 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 consumption of sucrose, the primary component in sugar, 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. According to Dr. Tahira Jiwani, of the Natural Therapeutics Health Center in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, “Fruit juice is full of sugar, missing the natural fiber, with minimal nutrients. Shockingly, fruit juice is actually more detrimental than soda, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. We perceive fruit juice to be nourishing & healthy as it’s derived from fruit. Yet, the comparison of soda & apple juice shows that 1 cup contains similar amounts at 40 grams of sugar and 160 calories.”
American Academy of Pediatrics researchers suggest parents of young children should mash-up fresh fruit instead of giving them juice. Water, milk and breast milk/formula should be the main liquid for babies and small children. Older children can have limited amounts of 100-percent fruit juice, but should be steered toward other low-calorie drinks instead.