The long-held belief that fruit juice is super healthy, being a great source of vitamins and hydration, is shifting.
Whether 5% or 100% juice, during processing incredibly valuable fibre is removed from the whole fruit (or vegetable). Nature designed these whole food packages to be eaten with all the nutrients together in specific ratios, including fibre alongside vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, water and naturally occurring sugars.
The fibre in whole fruit fills us up, limiting how much we consume, how long we are satisfied, and how quickly certain nutrients like naturally occurring sugars hit the body.
An item of food in it’s natural, whole form provides a sum of nutrients working collectively to be metabolised, absorbed and utilised by the body in the most useful way.
Once we start messing with that, like removing fibre from fruit to make juice, it can result in adverse effects to the body.
The recommendations to limit kid’s fruit juice intake
The evidence is growing that suggests feeding our little ones too much added sugar, including sugary beverages such as juice, is resulting in tooth decay and weight gain. This is a major concern.2-5
Most recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced new recommendations around fruit juice, stating toddlers and older children should consume only limited amounts of juice (if any) and children under 1 year should not have any at all.6
The American Heart Association recommends children under the age of 2 consume no added sugars whatsoever, which would include juice.7
The AAP has stated there is no need for fruit juice in the diet. Water and milk are sufficient as primary sources of fluid (after weaning), and children should be encouraged to enjoy the sweet deliciousness offered in whole fruit.
“Offering babies juice could keep them from getting enough breast milk or formula—and the needed protein, fat and other nutrients they contain,” said Dr Steven Abrams, co-author of the policy statement and incoming chair of the AAP Committee on Nutrition. “Once babies start eating solid foods, they should have whole fruit that is mashed or pureed, rather than juice.”
Finally, they also recommend not giving juice in sippy cups as this keeps the teeth awash in sugars, and not to use juice as a means to coerce or soothe a child. The juice can be seen as a reward and not encourage a healthy relationship with food as the child grows.
Need some ideas on getting your kidlets to enjoy fruit and veg?
You can try slicing the fruit, making fruit kebabs, or encourage kids to connect with where their food comes from and enjoy a day out picking the fruit from a local farmer or market. When kids are old enough to help themselves to afternoon snacks, keep only fruit or veg out for them to eat, and for dessert try blending up frozen banana for a no added sugar icecream. Yum! And remember to eat fruit yourself, leading by example.
Eventually, a healthful habit can form for enjoying a simple yet sublime serve of nature’s dessert.
By Angela Johnson (BHSc Nut. Med.)
- World Health Organization 2015, Information note about intake of sugars recommended in the WHO guideline for adults and children, viewed 4 July 2017, <http://who.int/nutrition/publications/guidelines/sugar_intake_information_note_en.pdf>
- DeBoer, MD, Scharf, RJ, & Demmer, RT 2013, ‘Sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain in 2- to 5-year-old children’, Pediatrics, no. 3, p. 413.
- Malik, VS, Pan, A, Willett, WC, & Hu, FB 2013, ‘Sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain in children and adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis’, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, no. 4, p. 1084.
- Moynihan, P 2016, ‘Sugars and Dental Caries: Evidence for Setting a Recommended Threshold for Intake’, Advances In Nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 149-156.
- Te Morenga, L, Mallard, S, & Mann, J 2012, ‘Dietary sugars and body weight: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials and cohort studies’, BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), vol. 346, p. e7492.
- Heyman, MB, & Abrams, SA 2017, ‘Fruit Juice in Infants, Children, and Adolescents: Current Recommendations’, Pediatrics, vol. 139, no. 6, pp. 1-8.