The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has developed a policy statement which contains recommendations on the use of fruit juice in infants, children, and adolescents. The statement offers specific recommendations that support its conclusion that although fruit juice consumption has some benefits, it also has potential detrimental effects, such as high sugar content and lack of fiber and protein which can predispose to inappropriate weight gain. Among statement’s conclusions and recommendations:
- Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits for infants younger than 1 year.
- Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits over whole fruit for infants and children and has no essential role in healthy, balanced diets of children.
- Excessive juice consumption is associated with diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal distention, and tooth decay.
- Juice should not be introduced into the diet of infants before 12 months of age unless clinically indicated.
- Toddlers should not be given juice from bottles or easily transportable covered cups that allow them to consume juice easily throughout the day. Toddlers should not be given juice at bedtime.
- Children should be encouraged to eat whole fruit to meet their recommended daily fruit intake.
- In the evaluation of children with malnutrition (overnutrition and undernutrition), the clinician should determine the amount of juice being consumed.
- Clinicians should routinely discuss the use of fruit juice and fruit drinks and should educate older children, adolescents, and their parents about differences between the two.
Heyman MB, Abrams SA, AAP Section on Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, AAP Committee on Nutrition. Fruit juice in infants, children, and adolescents: Current recommendations. [Published online ahead of print May 22, 2017]. Pediatrics. doi:10.1542/peds.2017-0967.
Many people still consider fruit juice to be a healthy option for both children and adults. This recommendation confirms that it is not. Juice typically has little fiber compared to whole fruit and is not nutritionally equivalent to whole fruit. While, fruit is a recommended as a component of a healthy diet, fruit juice is not because it is a ready source of excess calories and is typically not as satiating as whole foods. This guideline clarifies that fruit juice has no place in the diet of infants below 12 months of age, and has only a limited place in the diets of older children and adolescents. —Neil Skolnik, MD
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