No Juice? No Problem! Rethink Your Drink!
Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 06:12AM
Dr. Brown in Healthy Eating, Practical Parenting, diet, healthy eating, juice

Most kids love juice and would gladly drink it any time it's offered.  Those same kids may eventually refuse milk and water, opting instead for that beloved juice.  But juice, in moderation, is harmless right?  Maybe not! 

Juice, even the 100% fruit juice variety, is loaded with sugar and extra calories that our little ones do not need. And the category of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) refers not just to juice, but also to soda, fruit-ades, and sports and energy drinks.  These SSBs are the largest source of added sugars and contribute a significant amount of calories to the diets of US children.  

Interestingly, a new series of studies published last month in the leading jourrnal Pediatrics shows that drinking juice as an infant primes these kids to crave sugary drinks and set the course for a lifetime of unhealthy choices.  Our taste preferences (in favor of sugary beverages or for or against fruits and vegetables) are set quite early when infants are first exposed to solid foods!  This finding emerged after looking at the results of 11 studies where investigators tracked the diets of approximately 1,500 6-year-olds, comparing their eating patterns to those observed in a study that followed them since their first birthdays.

This study found that babies who consumed any amount of sugar-sweetened beverages were twice as likely to drink them at least once daily at age 6. And another study found that infants ages 10 to 12 months who were given sugar-sweetened beverages more than three times a week were twice as likely to be obese at age 6 than those who consumed none as infants (17% risk for the juice drinks vs just 8.6% for those who were not served juice).

Not to mention the higher risk of cavities for children whose teeth are slathered in those sugary drinks daily.

The main point here is that juice offers no nutritional advantage over offering your child whole fruits (an actual orange instead of orange juice or a handful of grapes instead of grape juice) as the fruits offer fiber and other nutritional advantages compared to the sugary drinks. Also, fruit juice conspumption contributes to toddler's diarrhea (the most common cause of chronic diarrhea in preschoolers) .  And finally, many pickier eaters prefer to fill up on juice than to eat any solid foods and while these kids will still get a lot of calories, they will mostly be from sugars or carbohydrates, and not from the much needed fats or proteins that are required for a healthy diet for these growing children.

So rest assured, it's perfectly acceptable to only offer milk and water to your children.  In fact, not offering juice early on may just set them up for a healthier life long term.



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