Drinking a glass of 100 percent fruit juice has long been thought of as a healthy habit for both adults and children. Recently, however, people have been confused about juice — how much to drink, how much to serve their children — partly because of the natural sweet taste of fruit juice.
According to Theresa Nicklas, professor of pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine, parents should be confident serving their children appropriate amounts of 100 percent fruit juice. Appropriate amounts, as defined by the American Academy of Pediatrics, are no more than 4-6 ounces per day for children 1- 6 years old and 8-12 ounces per day for children 7-18 years.
Dr. Nicklas’ latest study, published in the October issue of Pediatrics, evaluated data from a national sample of preschool children and determined that consumption of 100 percent juice was not associated with body mass index (an indicator of overweight) among preschoolers.
The analysis done by Nicklas and her colleagues was based on the largest, ongoing government database on food consumption (NHANES – National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey).
As a child nutrition researcher, Dr. Nicklas states that there are many factors associated with childhood obesity that are very poorly understood and more research is needed regarding diet and also lifestyle and activity levels.
Dr. Nicklas emphasizes that children as well as adults need to consume more fruits and vegetables. An analysis done by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee found that 100 percent fruit juices provide substantial amounts of vitamin C, potassium and folate to the diet that would otherwise not be consumed. A one-half cup of juice is equivalent to one serving of fruit.