Is Fruit Juice Actually Healthy for Children?

 

Juice is one sugary beverage that people perceive as healthy, compared to other sweetened beverages like sports drinks and sodas. People may consider juice to be healthy simply because it comes from fruit; however, the high sugar content is a red flag that can lead to issues further down the road. Some juices even have large amounts of added sugars in it on top of the great amount of natural sugars from the fruit itself. So why are we insisting on giving our children juice?

 

Juice is usually well-liked and tolerated by young children, which may be why we find it easy to give to our children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting juice to 4 oz for children 1-3 year, 4-6 oz for children 4-6 years, and 8 oz for children 7-18 years of age. Juice is not recommended for children under the age of 1 year. On average, children ages 2-5 consume 10 ounces of juice per day. Kids certainly don’t need as much juice as we think! While juice may provide several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, too much juice in a child’s diet can contribute to certain health conditions such as obesity and tooth decay.

 

Obesity rates in the United States have risen over the years and affects 19% of children. That is a large percentage of children! Perhaps sugary beverages including juice are contributing to that statistic. Juice has high amounts of natural sugars and calories and lacks the fiber one would get from eating whole fruits. It’s a beverage that can be drank quite quickly and easily, and without the fiber content, does not keep bellies feeling full. Lacking satiety may lead to more snacking and increased calorie intake throughout the day. Diabetes typically goes hand in hand with obesity as well. Research shows that consuming juice is associated with increased risk of diabetes. However, we see the opposite with certain fresh fruit—we see a decreased risk of diabetes. Fresh fruit is recommended over fruit juice any day!

 

While fruit juice is not a necessary part of obtaining an adequate diet, you should consider the following if you choose to incorporate it in your child’s diet. It is recommended that the juice be 100% fresh or reconstituted fruit juice. Consider watering down juice to cut out some calories and sugars. Children should not be given juice in a bottle or sippy cup, especially at night in bed, as this promotes tooth decay.     

 

As a society, we need to aim for lower obesity and diabetes rates in the United States. By restricting high sugar beverages like juice, we can promote healthy diets and lifestyles that can prevent unwanted health conditions.

Resources:

  1. Kit BK, Fakhouri TH, Park S, Nielsen SJ, Ogden CL. Trends in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among youth and adults in the United States: 1999–2010. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jul 1;98(1):180–8..
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends No Fruit Juice For Children Under 1 Year [Internet]. [cited 2018 Aug 30]. Available from: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Recommends-No-Fruit-Juice-For-Children-Under-1-Year.aspx

 

Thank you to dietetic intern Molly Lowery for her contributions to and creation of this post.

World Breastfeeding Week

August 1, 2017 by  
Filed under baby food, Child nutrition

It’s World Breastfeeding Week, and a new report out from The Global Breastfeeding Collective finds that as a planet, we’re not doing so well when it comes to exclusive breastfeeding goals.

The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding (meaning nothing other than breastmilk given to baby) for the first 6 months of life.

Breastfeeding, which helps lower infant mortality rates and increases optimal development in infants, also brings huge economic benefits to families and the countries they reside in.

But currently none of the countries evaluated – rich or poor – are doing enough to help encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months.

A few sobering statistics from the report:

  • Only 40% of infants are exclusively breastfed for 6 months per the WHO recommendations
  • Increasing that to 50% by 2025 would save the lives of more than 500,000 young children
  • Highest exclusive BF rates at 6 months are in Rwanda and Burundi at 87 and 83%, respectively
  • Lowest exclusive BF rates at 6 months are in Chad and Djibouti at 0 and 1%, respectively

Here in the US, only 25% of babies are exclusively breastfed.

Authors of the report recommend a number of ways to increase global breastfeeding rates. These include cracking down on advertising of infant formula which supplants breastfeeding and advocating for paid maternity leave for parents.

To learn more about the positive impact that breastfeeding can have on individual children, their larger families and communities and countries, check out the UNICEF page that promotes exclusive breastfeeding here.

Baby-Led Feeding, Fussiness and Weight

July 24, 2017 by  
Filed under baby food, Child nutrition

 

There are a lot of ways to feed a baby…and one of the more popular approaches is modeled on the philosophy called baby-led weaning. With baby-led weaning, you bypass spoon-feeding of pureed food and encourage babies to self-feed age appropriate foods.

Although the practice of allowing a baby to self-feed has been around for generations, the term was only recently coined by British feeding expert and author of the Baby-Led Weaning Book, Gill Rapley, PhD. Proponents of this approach say it encourages independence, helps babies respond to their hunger and fullness cues and decreases picky eating later in life.

But as with any claim you want to make in the health and wellbeing space…you better have some data to back it up!

A new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that a baby-led approach to complementary feeding resulted in children who had less food fussiness (i.e., picky eating) – a finding also replicated in previous studies. This new study also found that these self-fed babies also did not exhibit any signs of growth faltering – meaning that a baby-led approach to feeding can likely meet a healthy baby’s nutrition needs.

Some proponents of the baby-led approach to feeding maintain that it leads to healthier weight and can help prevent overweight and obesity down the line (compared to spoon-feeding). This particular study indicated that a baby-led approach to complementary feeding does not appear to reduce risk for overweight compared with traditional feeding practices (although it didn’t increase risk of underweight either!)

The study was part of the 2-year Baby-Led Introduction to Solids (BLISS) randomized clinical trial and it included 206 women followed from pregnancy in New Zealand. Although this particular study was small, it is an important contribution to the growing body of literature that supports a baby-led approach to feeding as a viable and safe alternative to spoon-feeding.

Early Introduction of Eggs & Peanuts May Reduce Allergy

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For years the medical community maintained that delaying the introduction of potentially allergenic foods might help prevent food allergy. But a new body of literature indicates that the opposite might actually be true: early introduction (at less than one year of life) might actually be protective against later food allergy.

A meta-analysis published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at 146 previously conducted studies that analyzed over 200,000 children. The researchers found that compared to later introduction of the respective foods:

  • Introduction of peanuts between 4-11 months resulted in a 30% reduced risk of peanut allergy
  • Introduction of eggs between 4-6 months resulted in a 70% reduced risk of egg allergy

Of course some precautions still need to be taken:

  • Parents and caregivers of a baby who already has a food allergy or food-related eczema should take additional precautions
  • Parents and caregivers of a baby who is at high risk for developing food allergy (usually because of established food allergy in other family members) should seek additional advice from their primary caregiver

For more information on food allergy visit the Food Allergy Resource and Education (FARE) website.