With childhood obesity numbers soaring off the charts, many parents are more in tune with what their children are eating and drinking. French fries are being replaced with sweet potato fries and fruit cups, chicken tenders are getting the boot from their healthier grilled self, and sodas are being upgraded to real fruit juice. But, is this upgrade to juice really an upgrade at all?
Even though juice comes from fruit, it is still loaded with sugar and extra calories. Unfortunately, many parents think that this is a healthy option for their kids because of all of the vitamins and minerals juices offer. What they don’t take into consideration is that a single serving of fruit juice has far more calories from sugar than eating a piece of fruit (more than double, actually). And, while chewing an apple actually burns calories, swallowing a calorie-laden beverage like juice doesn’t give your mouth a workout.
Juice is absorbed quickly, and because it is full of liquid sugars, it creates a spike in insulin levels. If consumed in larger amounts regularly, it has the potential to cause childhood obesity and diabetes. Additionally, it lacks the filling fiber that a piece of fruit offers. So even after having consumed 180 calories of juice, your child will probably be hungry again fairly quickly.
Although the American Academy of Pediatrics currently allows for a limited amount of juice (4-6 ounces per day for infants >6 months and 6 ounces twice daily for children) in a child’s daily diet, the recommendation to cut it out altogether may be on the horizon. So while skipping the daily candy bar and soda is a must, limiting the amount of juice your child drinks may be equally important in ensuring their health and preventing childhood obesity.