No juice for babies, say US doctors

Fruit juice is of no nutritional benefit to children under one year of age and should not be given to them, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Previously, the Academy had advised that juice should not be given to babies under six months, so the latest statement extends the advised time period of abstinence.

The statement, “Fruit Juice in Infants, Children, and Adolescents: Current Recommendations,” to be published in the June issue of Pediatrics examines the rising rates of obesity and concerns about dental health based on evidence accumulated over recent years.

“Parents may perceive fruit juice as healthy, but it is not a good substitute for fresh fruit and just packs in more sugar and calories,” said Melvin B. Heyman, MD, FAAP, co-author of the statement. “Small amounts in moderation are fine for older kids, but are absolutely unnecessary for children under 1.”

The new recommendations state that 100-percent fresh or reconstituted fruit juice can be a healthy part of the diet of children older than one year when consumed as part of a well-balanced diet. Consumption, however, should be limited depending on a child’s age.

The statement also said that, instead of fruit juice, it is better for children to eat whole fruits. This is because, unlike whole fruit, juice lacks dietary fiber and may contribute to excessive weight gain.

“We know that excessive fruit juice can lead to excessive weight gain and tooth decay,” co-author Steven A. Abrams, MD, FAAP said. “Pediatricians have a lot of information to share with families on how to provide the proper balance of fresh fruit within their child’s diet.”

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