| NEW YORK
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Contrary to popular belief,
drinking pure 100 percent fruit juice does not make young
children overweight or at risk for becoming overweight, new
research shows. Pure fruit juice provides essential nutrients
and, in moderation, may actually help children maintain a
Inconsistent research findings have led to continued debate
over the potential associations between drinking 100 percent
fruit juice, nutrient intake, and overweight in children.
In the their study, researchers analyzed the juice
consumption of 3,618 children ages 2 to 11 using data from the
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
"The bottom line is that 100 percent juice consumption is a
valuable contributor of nutrients in children's diet and it
does not have an association with being overweight," study
chief Dr. Theresa Nicklas, a child nutrition specialist at
Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told Reuters Health. She
presented the new data at the Pediatric Academic Societies'
annual convention in Toronto this week.
"If you look at the weight of the evidence there are at
least 7 studies plus the one I presented (this week) that show
no association between 100 percent juice and overweight among
children," Nicklas added. Even among the children who consumed
the most juice, there was no association with the children
being overweight or at risk for overweight, she said.
The results also indicate that juice consumption "is not
excessive among 2- to 11-year-olds," Nicklas said. In fact, 57
percent of the children did not consume 100 percent juice at
all, "which is much higher than I expected," she said.
The average daily consumption of pure fruit juice in the
study population was 4.1 ounces (about half a cup) -- an amount
in line with recommendations from the American Academy of
And while there were a few children (13 percent) who
consumed larger amounts of juice (12 ounces or more), their
increased intake was not associated with overweight or at risk
for being overweight. In fact, children in the 2 to 3-year-old
category who drank the most juice were nearly three times less
likely to be overweight or at risk for overweight than children
who drank no juice at all.
Nicklas and her colleagues also found that children who
drank any amount of 100 percent juice ate less total fat,
saturated fat, sodium, added sugars and added fats. Pure juice
drinkers also had higher intakes of a number of key nutrients
including vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamin B6
and iron. They also ate more whole fruits, like apples.
Nicklas encourages parents who are concerned about their
child being overweight to look beyond their juice consumption.
"My advice would be to look at the total number of calories
that child is taking in and look at where the bulk of those
calories are coming from and equally important look at the
activity level of the child."