The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) made a statement today that kids under the age of 1 should avoid drinking fruit juice, and should instead eat whole fruit in order to get the daily recommended serving.
The previous recommendation was to refrain from serving fruit juice to those under the age of 6 months, but this was changed due to emerging data linking fruit juice consumption to increased prevalence of tooth decay and weight control issues.
The crux of the problem is that fruit juice contains all the sugar of whole fruit, but lacks the fiber, causing it to absorb faster into the blood stream and spike blood sugar levels. Additionally, the fiber acts to satiate your hunger, preventing overeating. For this reason, even children over the age of 1 are recommended to limit their consumption of fruit juice to less than half the recommended servings of fruit each day.
Steve Abrams, a professor of pediatrics at Dell Medical School at UT Austin, says that the rationale for this recommendation published on Monday in Pediatrics is based on “the most recent evidence [that] supports that fruit juice should be a limited part of the diet of children.”
Abrams suggests that parents should cap fruit juice consumption at four ounces for toddlers, four to six ounces for kids 4-6 years old, and eight ounces for children aged 7-18 years old. He also recommends using low-fat milk or water to meet the child’s daily fluid requirement, as these alternatives do not contain as much sugar. These suggestions only apply to 100% fruit juice – beverages that contain less than 100% fruit juice (sugar-sweetened fruit beverages) and smoothies should be only consumed sparingly.
Mark DeBoer, an associate professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, is not surprised by the change in the AAP’s guidelines. His research shows a correlation between consistent juice consumption at age 2 and childhood obesity at age 4. He believes that this correlation may arise from the “prevailing notion among some parents that juice is a reasonable substitute for fruit.”
In addition to the AAP’s guidelines for consumption, they have also suggested that parents refrain from serving unpasteurized fruit products, which can carry infectious pathogens such as E. coli. Due to the correlational research evidence, it is unlikely that fruit juice consumption is the only mediator for childhood obesity, but it certainly plays a role.
Source: Katherine Hobson. Pediatricians Advise No Fruit Juice Until Kids Are 1. May 22, 2017. NPR.