Is Juice Healthy For Kids?

Is Juice Healthy For Kids?

A lot of parents hand their child a pack of juice in place of some candy, chips, or biscuits simply because they consider it a healthier alternative which is also much easier and convenient. In fact, most of the toddlers and little kids love getting juice boxes.

For years, many of the doctors and health practitioners have also recommended juice to the parents in place of other packaged food items. It was also suggested to keep nutritional deficiencies away and give a boost of Vitamin C.

However, a common question raised today is whether the belief of juice being healthy even true. There has been a shift in the opinions on handing juice boxes to children and to have in while trying to maintain a good diet.

A report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2017 highlights the potential side effects of recommending and giving fruit juices to infants, children, and even adolescents along with young adults.

Ideally, infants should not be given any type of juice and many do not choose to do so either but the side effects of juice are not just confined to children but can even occur in teenagers.

What Is Juice?

In accordance with the rules laid down by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, any beverage wanting the title of a juice must contain a hundred percent extract of the of juice from the fruit. If the juice is reconstituted from the juice, it should be mentioned on the label.

Secondly, the drinks that do not contain a hundred percent extract of the juice are also required to state the present percentage of the juice in the beverage in its nutritional information along with a descriptive term.

Other requirements for juices include the mention of any added sugars and flavors. The occasional fortifiers that are added to juices such as Vitamin C or Calcium manufactured specifically for children should also be listed among others on the label.

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What Is The Deal With Juices Now?

Going back to the 90s or early 2000s, one would see that fruit juice boxes were an essential part every child’s lunch in school. Many teenagers were also recommended fruit juices over soda or any other carbonated drinks.

In fact, many of the fitness bloggers from the era used to display photos of them drinking juices in breakfast or as a post-workout meal. Many even considered juice as the favorite drink of a person who is a weight watcher or is diet conscious.

What happened to the suggestions regarding juices now?

Most of the pediatrics have changed their views after the report by American Academy of Pediatrics was released. The report by AAP is mostly concentrated on the side effects of consuming fruit juices the same way as people consume soda.

This means that the daily consumption of juices like many people tend to take a soda can be harmful as well, contrary to the popular belief. Large consumption of fruit juices can even lead to the same effects as drinking large quantities of soda.

The AAP report shows that having fruit juice every now and then can lead to energy imbalance which is a side effect typically associated with soda.

There are also many other similar effects including diarrhea, flatulence, under-nutrition or over-nutrition, increased calorie consumption, abdominal distention and a higher risk of developing a sugar addiction along with dental issues, especially in children.

A lot of people also tend to add water to the juice to dilute it and to avoid too much sugar. Unfortunately, adding water to any kind of juice does not really lessen the effects of consuming the fruit juice.

How Much Juice Is Too Much?

As soon as people find out that their belief of juice being a healthy beverage is wrong and having too much of it can produce the same effects as soda, they immediately strike the question of how much juice is safe.

The report by American Academy of Pediatrics on the matter gives a very clear understanding and breaks down the allowed consumption in accordance with age groups along with the reason for the amount.

According to the AAP report, infants who are of six months or younger should not be consuming any brand or type of juice at all. The national pediatrics foundation and most of the doctors recommend breast milk to a child until six months of age.

The only exception that occurs in the case of infants is when the mother is unable to breastfeed or chooses not to do so. In such a situation, the doctor is likely to recommend an appropriate substitute such as coconut milk baby formula.

Additionally, another thing to keep in mind here is that fruit juices should also not be given to infants who are older than six months since pediatrics state that any child should avoid juices or similar drinks for the first year.

The quantity of fruit juice should also be restricted in case of children between the ages of 4-6. The allowed amount by the AAP report is no more than 4-5 ounce per day. For the 7-10 age group, the amount is almost the same.

Children who are in their preteens and teens can consume 8 ounces of juice every other day but not more than that. The single serving juice bottles contain juice which is almost double the amount of the recommended one.

What Are The Dangers Of Juice?

According to the Consumer Reports survey released in 2012, 54% of the parents having a child of age 2 and understated that their child had had juice in the last twenty-four hours. This can be worrisome due to the following reasons:

  • Another Consumer Reports analysis discovered that around ten percent of grape and apple juices had arsenic levels that were higher than the U.S. drinking water standards.
  • About twenty-five percent of the tested fruit juice samples also contained arsenic amounts that exceeded the allowed amount by in water bottles by the U.S Food and Drug Administration.
  • Arsenic has more than one source in case of fruit juices. It gets into the fruit juices through the arsenic-based orchard insecticides that remain in the soil even after years of using and from the use of juice concentrate imported from China.

Additionally, many reports by other well-known organizations show many concerns that are linked to the popular beverage, such as the use of not so healthy additives to the juices.

The Environmental Working Group Food Score’s Database highlights that some of the most popular juice brands contain at least eight spoons of sugar or even more per serving.

Secondly, these juices may also have some additives people would not like in their food such as calcium phosphate which has long been linked to the increased risk of developing cardiovascular and kidney conditions.

A research by the University of Virginia in 2016 also looked at the number of calories and sugar present in the juices and concluded that a bottle of hundred percent juices given to a child from the age of 2 can cause the child to become overweight by the age of 4.

Consequently, many of the doctors today have started suggesting healthier alternatives such as vegetable-based juices or antioxidant-rich juices such as pomegranate juice but that too only in the recommended amounts.

Keep in mind that the old trick of diluting the juice with water does not work and will not in any way decrease the harmful effects of the juice.

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