It’s no secret that kids love sugary, sweet foods – so much, that they throw fits and tantrums in grocery isles within seconds if they are denied their favourite cereals, candy bars, and snacks. When given the ice cream cone or chocolate chip cookie that a child was after, their mood often improves instantly. For a child, anything packed with sugar is delicious and desirable… but unfortunately, it is also, very often, unhealthy. For parents, this can prove to be a struggle. Hence, if there’s something healthy mixed in with a tasty food item, it’s a win-win for both parent and child, right? In actuality, this is not always the case.
In the grand scheme of things, food items like fruit juices appear innocent enough to appease both parent and child; they should not be a cause for worry because they are marketed as being both healthy and tasty. Consequently, fruit juices can appear to be a great alternative to fruit for some parents, when their children are reluctant to eat their apples, grapes, and berries. However, according to a recent recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children under the age of 1 years should not drink any fruit juices and older children should limit their daily intake.
So why is there so much concern over fruit juice? Surely, it should be a healthier alternative to other drinks that are available for consumption, right?
The AAP recommendation came about after growing concerns regarding the health of children, especially pertaining to an increased risk for childhood obesity and dental caries. The reality is that fruit juices have as much, if not more, sugar loaded into each serving as soda pop drinks, like coke. Moreover, not only do fruit juices contain an astonishing amount of sugar, they also lack the protein and fibre that is found in fresh fruit. In this way, fruit juices barely have any more nutritional value than soda pop.
So how much fruit juice should you be giving your child?
- For children under the age of 1, there should be zero consumption of fruit juice.
- Between the ages of 1-3 years, children should consume a daily maximum of 4 ounces.
- Between the ages of 4-6 years, children should consume a daily maximum of 4-6 ounces.
- For children over the age of 7, a daily maximum of 7 ounces of fruit juice is allowed.
In addition to lowering their child’s consumption of fruit juices, the AAP recommends that parents increase the of whole fruits, which have less sugar and more fibre, in their child’s diet. For families with children that have been effected by dental carries and/or weight gain, it is recommended that parents completely cut fruit juices out of their child’s diet. Finally, parents should routinely visit their health care provider to ensure that their child’s sugar intake and weight gain is normal, along with the health of their teeth and mouths.