Fruit Juice and Children
Feeding children juice can seem like a good idea to many. It’s sweet and so keeps a child happy and of course juice has to be healthy, right? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition, it’s really not for the best in the long run.
First off, when it comes to the idea that juice is nutritious, that isn’t really the case. Juice, even 100% fruit juice and even without added sugar or being from concentrate, is primarily sugar and water. Fruit drinks other than juice are even worse in this regard. Most of the nutrients from fruit are in the flesh of the fruit rather than the juice. What’s more, because of the sugar content, a child should not be given a bottle or Sippy cup of juice to drink from throughout the day due to increased risk of cavities. Juice during a meal is considered fine in comparison, however.
As for when to start considering giving juice, the committee recommends no earlier than 6 months and absolutely not before solid foods are introduced into the diet. Also suggested by the committee in regards to solid foods is to introduce single ingredient foods one at a time and only one new food per week beginning at 4-6 months.
Finally, once kids get older, it’s recommended that parents encourage their kids to eat more whole fruits rather than juice. This is to decrease the amount of calories and thus prevent childhood obesity, but also to increase the amount of fiber in their diet. This is especially helpful as the committee has also noted that some carbohydrates in juices are difficult to digest in children and so can cause diarrhea and stomach pains if overconsumed.
--Joshua J. J. Jorde D.C.
Original report available here: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/107/5/1210.full