The American Academy of Pediatrics made the news recently when it updated its guidelines to advise that babies under 12 months should not be given juice. Previously, it had made this suggestion only for babies under 6 months.
Unfortunately, it is easy to assume that this means fruit juice is absolutely fine and should be encouraged for babies over 12 months old. In fact, the underlying reasoning for the change contains some findings that can apply to us all.
Fruit juice is promoted as a healthy and diet-conscious option. Yet research continues to show that it can actually be detrimental to controlling weight. From the article behind the headlines comes this snippet:
“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)”
One of the reasons I have become so vocal about the benefits of a sugar-free lifestyle is that it runs counter to food marketing, with its billions of dollars of advertising to blind and confuse the masses. For parents trying to do the right thing, when juice is promoted as an equivalent of whole fruit (which it really isn’t), it seems an easy way to get some nutrients into your kid. Yet, once they start loving and drinking it, the reverse becomes true:
“Malnutrition and short stature in children have been associated with excessive consumption of juice”
And of course, we’re encouraged to keep our children hydrated. Getting them to drink enough can be a problem, so we make it easy for them. But unless the fluid in that sippy cup is water or milk, you’d better hope that your kid enjoys going to the dentist:
“The practice of allowing children to carry a bottle, easily transportable covered cup, open cup, or box of juice around throughout the day leads to excessive exposure of the teeth to carbohydrate, which promotes the development of dental caries”
Although these issues are accentuated in children, it is easy to see that they can translate to adults as well. Fruit is amazing. It has fibre, nutrients and energy. Juice is sugar and water. I wonder how many parents would be horrified at their babies drinking a can of cola, but wouldn’t think twice about a nice healthy juice? This article is a great first step in educating ourselves away from ways of eating that simply aren’t beneficial, just easy.
For the actual article rather than the headline grabbing summaries, you can find it on the American Academy of Pediatrics Publications page. If you don’t want to read all of it, skip to the conclusions section to see the specific dangers and concerns.
If you’re interested in cutting down or completely removing sugar from your life, then check out The Realist’s Guide To Sugar Free. It’s full of tips, tricks and information to help you live a healthier lifestyle.