Dr. Cindy Gellner says fruit juice is “basically liquid candy.” Learn about the myth of fruit juice health claims and what you should be giving your child instead.">

Aug 14, 2017 — Fruits are healthy for our kids, but that doesn't necessarily mean that 100% all-natural fruit juice is healthy for our kids. Pediatrician Dr. Cindy Gellner says fruit juice is “basically liquid candy.” Learn about the myth of fruit juice health claims and what you should be giving your child instead.

Interview

Dr. Gellner: Juice, especially a 100% fruit juice is healthy. It's made with fruit. Sorry, that's outdated thinking. I'll address this old wives' tale and give you the updated scoop on today's Scope. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner.

Announcer: Remember that one thing that one person told you that one time about what you should or shouldn't do with raising your kids? Find out if it's true, or not. This is Debunking Old Wives' Tales with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: I get asked this all the time. "How much juice can I give my baby, my toddler, my child?" Parents feel the need to give their child fruit juice. It's what they were raised on, so it's got to be good for their child. Right? A 100% fruit juice is healthy. Just like the fruit the juice was made from. Makes sense right? But that's wrong.

The bottom line is juice isn't all that healthy at all. In fact, unless I'm recommending it for constipation, I tell parents not to give babies under a year old any juice. For kids older than a year, I always say, "Drink juice in moderation. It's pure sugar and calories." In fact, store bought juice is nicknamed "liquid candy," just like soda is. Think about it.

Four ounces of lemon lime soda has 12.6 grams of sugar and 46 calories. Four ounces of apple juice has no fiber, 60 calories and 13 grams of sugar. Compare that to a 1/2 a cup of apple slices which has 1.5 grams of fiber, 30 calories and 5.5 grams of sugar. Big difference.

Real fruit has fiber, which makes it less likely to cause cavities and more helpful if constipation is an issue in older kids. Children need to learn how to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, not drink them. New guidelines for older kids are four ounces daily for children ages 1 to 3, 6 ounces daily for children ages 4 to 6, and only 8 ounces for children ages 6 to 18.

While some companies and organizations state that real fruit juice is a nutritious complement to whole fruit in balanced diets for older children, or even marketed as a way to add vitamin C and flavor variety to a baby's diet, the recent statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics states that juice has no essential role in healthy balanced diets of children. Studies also warn that infants currently drinking juice are more likely to want to drink soda and other sugar containing drinks when they get older.

Juice and other sugary drinks contribute to weight gain and tooth decay that we pediatricians see all the time in young children. By changing these guidelines and getting kids to cut down on juice, hopefully there will also be a decrease in cavities and obesity.

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