Short stuff: Health roundupChildhood obesity and the consumption of fruit juice are not necessarily related, according to a study published in a recent issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
But before you start handing your children box after box of juice, there are a few limitations to these findings that some doctors want parents to note.
This study looked at only 100 percent fruit juice and only observed children who consumed an average of 4.1 ounces of it a day, says Dr. William Faber, a family practitioner and medical director of four Advocate Health Centers on Chicago’s north side.
"I’m concerned with kids who drink far more juice than that," says Faber. "I’d like to see a study that looks at kids who drink 12 to 16 ounces or more per day. I’d wager that if you did the same study with kids who drank that much that you would see a correlation between juice and obesity."
Most people think that because fruit is healthy, fruit juice is healthy, says Faber. But what’s important to remember about juice is that the nutrients are separated from the fiber that slows the absorption of the components, especially sugar.
"When you eat fruit in its whole state, you have to slow down to chew it and you can’t consume as much sugar as rapidly as you can when you drink just the juice," says Faber. "The problem with juice is that it becomes too easy to consume a lot of sugar in a short amount of time."
Eating fruit in its natural state has another added benefit for children, Faber says. The fiber helps prevent one of the most common problems of young children, constipation.
So what should parents take away from this?
Faber says the most important issues are overall volume and overall sugar content per ounce. He recommends parents study labels and compare grams of sugar per ounce in different brands of fruit juice.
"And based on this study, I’d recommend that parents keep their kids’ juice consumption to 4.1 ounces per day or less."
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