The country’s top pediatricians are encouraging parents to just say no to fruit juice for children under age 1.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ new guidance on juice consumption in infants, children and adolescents is published in the journal Pediatrics.
Previously, the group had advised parents to avoid juice until an infant reached 6 months old. Doctors now advise against juice altogether until after age 1. According to The New York Times.
The concern is that juice offers no nutritional benefits early in life, and can take the place of what babies really need: breast milk or formula and their protein, fat and minerals like calcium.
The AAP says older children at a healthy weight can have juice as long as it’s consumed sparingly. The guidelines recommend:
- Toddlers ages 1 to 3: no more than 4 ounces of juice per day
- Kids ages 4 to 6: no more than 6 ounces
- Kids ages 7 to 18: no more than 8 ounces maximum
Instead of consuming juice, doctors say children should stick to drinking water and low-fat milk. According to the AAP:
High sugar content in juice contributes to increased calorie consumption and the risk of dental caries. In addition, the lack of protein and fiber in juice can predispose to inappropriate weight gain (too much or too little).
Doctors say drinking fruit juice is by no means a replacement for eating whole fruit. According to an NPR report, the guidelines stress that eating whole fruit is a better way to get all the vitamins and nutrients in fruit. In addition, the fiber in fruit slows sugar absorption and makes you feel fuller than drinking juice.
Dr. Steven Abrams, a lead author of the new juice report recommendations and the chairman of pediatrics at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin, tells the Times that eating fruit is “less of a pure sugar intake” than consuming straight juice, which has less fiber and is more likely to cause tooth decay.
“We want kids to learn how to eat fresh foods. If you assume fruit juice is equal to fruit, then you’re not getting that message.”
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