The truth about juice
Nutritionists have long argued that fruit juice—because it’s almost entirely carbohydrate—adds many empty calories to the American diet. We’re best off, they say, consuming whole fruit, which has more benefits than fruit juice because of its fiber content. And, not all fruit juices are created equal; many contain added sugars, amounting to even more calories. In children, those excess calories can lead to obesity and cavities. In infants under one year, excessive carbohydrate intake can decrease the child’s desire for human milk or formula and cause diarrhea.
Children age 2 to 18, according to the AAP, consume “nearly half of their fruit intake as juice.” That means, they’re drinking on average one-half to one cup of their daily recommended nutrition not to mention the added sugar that often comes with fruit juice. (The United States Department of Agriculture provides fruit intake recommendations for all ages on its website choosemyplate.gov.) This level of fruit juice intake is linked to both tooth decay and a predisposition for weight gain. It can even attribute to dehydration when kids and teens choose juice over water.
Make juice a family affair
Your entire family, not just infants and children, can benefit from the AAP’s recommendations. Try reducing juice intake as a family by serving water at meals instead, and when the craving for sweetness hits, reach for the whole fruit. Make it everyone’s responsibility to keep baby’s bottle juice free until she’s at least one year-old—unless otherwise recommended by your pediatrician. As a family you’ll experience the benefits of whole fruit consumption, avoid excessive carbohydrates, and maybe prevent a few trips to the dentist.