Limiting Juice Intake in Children
It isn’t news that many pediatricians are recommending against juice. Many pediatricians will advise parents that there should be no juice for babies, only very small portions for toddlers, and less than a cup a day for everyone else. Even now, juice is rarely recommend to be more than just a few ounces to a cup a day for a child’s diet, but now is being advised against completely during infancy. Fruit juices have always been portrayed as a natural and healthy source of vitamins, as well as a a great source for hydration.
One of the main focuses is whole fruit in the Dietary Guidelines of Americans, juices may seem like a great substitute, though they are not. Even with juices that offer 100% fruit juice, there are no real nutritional benefit that is needed. Many of us are probably asking ourselves, why, especially given everything we have come to know.
When you really think about it, juice is just a lot of water and simple sugars, and lacks fiber and protein. Naturally occurring sugar is still sugar.
Calories obtained from juice are taken in at a faster rate than what is ideal. Juice is widely known to cause excessive energy imbalances and contribute to overweight issues in children. These are calories that with do not need to drink.
When we consume whole fruits there is the advantage of getting the quality fiber that is good for us.
What exactly is fruit juice?
Fruit juice is mainly water and carbohydrates such as fructose, sucrose, glucose, and sorbitol.
With some juices you will see naturally occurring high contents of potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. You will also notice that many store-bought juices will have vitamin additives. For example, orange juice will often have vitamin D added.
Typically juice for infants do not contain sulfites or added sugars. Though, juice has almost twice the carbohydrate load that is found in breast milk or infant formula. Juices should never replace breast milk or formula. Keep in mind, after 6 months water can be introduced. Even better is whole(or mushed) fruits.
Be aware of what you are buying:
In order for juices to be labels fruit juices, the USDA(US Food and Drug Administration) has to mandate a product to be 100% fruit juice. If a beverage is less than 100% juice, the label must state the percentage of the product that is fruit juice. The product must also have a listed term to describe what it is; “drink”, “beverage”, or “cocktail”. When a juice is reconstructed from a concentrate, the label must also list that the product has been reconstructed.
There are many products that are not entirely juice when they appear to be. They may contain juice ingredients, but it is best to view these products as sugar-sweetened beverages, like soda.
Known Effects of Fruit Juice
Infants under 1 year of age do not get any nutritional benefits from fruit juice. Those who drink fruit juice are filled up with about the double load of carbohydrates than found in breast milk or formula. Fruit juice does not offer any nutritional benefit for children this young.
With toddlers and children, juice replaces items that have fiber and protein.
Sipping juices in a bottle or sippy cup though out the day cause increased risk of dental decay.
Excessive juice consumption leads to other health problems that can be avoided such as; abdominal distention, diarrhea, flatulence, and tooth decay.
Malnutrition (over-nutrition and under-nutrition) can also be associated with excessive juice consumption.
American Academy of Pediatrics Juice Recommendations
The latest recommendations for juice during childhood include:
Juice should not be given to children under the age of 1 year.
Avoid putting juice in bottles or sippy cups.
Do not give juice to children at bedtime, and reduce the amount given throughout the day.
Encourage eating whole fruit to meet their recommended daily fruit intake.
If your child has diarrhea, avoid juice. Juice is not the appropriate treatments or management for dehydration.
Recommended maximum amount of juice:
- 1 to 3 years old – 4 ounces/day
- 4 to 6 years old – 4 to 6 ounces/day
- 7 to 18 years old – 8 ounces or 1 cup of the recommended 2 to 2.5 cups of fruit servings per day
If you have dietary questions regarding your child, don’t hesitate to give your pediatrician a call MacKoul Pediatrics. You can reach us at (239) 573-2001.