For many years now there has been a general belief that giving young children pure fruit juice will make them overweight and could well be contributing to the current dramatic rise in childhood obesity.
This debate has been going on for a considerable time now, largely because of inconsistencies in the data from different studies, and it was not until quite recently that the results of a study of more than 3,600 children between the ages of 2 and 11 revealed the truth about the value or otherwise of pure fruit juice.
Across the range of children studied there was a wide variation in the consumption of pure fruit juice from those children who consumed virtually none at all (about 57% of the study group) to those who consumed on average about 12 ounces or more daily (about 13% of the study group). The average consumption was about 4 ounces (half a cup) a day, which is line with the amount recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The study found that there was no evidence at all that children who consumed pure fruit juice were overweight as a result, or that drinking pure fruit juice placed them at risk of becoming overweight.
In fact, the reverse was shown to be true with children in the 2 to 3 age band for example, who drank the most fruit juice, being almost three times less likely to be overweight than those children in the same age band who drank no fruit juice at all.
The study also found that those children who consumed pure fruit juice ate less total fat, saturated fats and added fats as well as less sugar and salt.
These children also tended to eat more whole fruit and had higher intakes of several key vitamins and minerals including vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate, iron, magnesium and potassium.
So what does this suggest?
If you are concerned about your child being overweight, or being at risk of becoming overweight, then the answer certainly doesn’t lie in his or her consumption of pure fruit juice. Indeed, if anything, moderate consumption of pure fruit juice will be helping to maintain the child’s weight at the right level and providing the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals for strong and healthy growth.