PAS: Pure Fruit Juices Don't Make Kids Fat


TORONTO -- Children who drink 100% fruit juices are no more likely to be overweight than kids who drink none, and juice drinkers get considerably more nutritional benefits, researchers reported here.

TORONTO, May 8 -- Children who drink 100% fruit juices are no more likely to be overweight than kids who drink none, and juice drinkers get considerably more nutritional benefits, researchers reported.

In fact, kids may not be getting enough pure juice in their diet, noted Carol E. O'Neil, Ph.D., of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and colleagues, at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting here.

"Even among the children who consumed the most juice, we found no association at all with the children being overweight or at risk for overweight," said co-author Theresa A. Nicklas, Dr.Ph., L.N.

One startling finding, said Dr. Nicklas: More than half of the children studied (57%) drank no juice at all.

In a study of dietary habits of more than 3,600 children, the investigators also found that children who drank juice took in less sodium, fats, and sugars than children who did not consume 100% juice.

Nor did drinking juice come at the expense of drinking milk, as some critics of childhood nutritional practices have warned might happen.

The investigators analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999 - 2002. The data contained information on the types and amounts of foods and beverages consumed by children ages two to 11, using a multi-pass 24-hour recall method.

In the analysis presented here, the authors calculated least square means and conducted logistic regression analyses adjusting for gender, age, ethnicity, and energy intake.

They found that the 3,618 children studied consumed an average of about 1/2 cup (4.1 ounces) of juice a day, translating into a mean of 58 calories, or 3.3% of their total daily energy intake.

Children who drank 100% juices had significantly higher intakes of energy, carbohydrate, fiber, vitamins C and B6, potassium, riboflavin, magnesium, iron and folate compared with kids who didn't drink juice. Juice drinkers also consumed more total servings of fruits and less sodium, fat, saturated fat, added fat, and added sugar.

Children who drank 12 ounces of juice or more a day (13 % of those studied) were no more likely to be overweight than their peers who drank less juice. And those two- to three-year-olds who drank the most juice were three times less likely to be overweight compared with children who drank no juice at all.

The authors also found that there were no significant differences in the mean levels or amounts of juice consumption for any of the physiologic weight measures studied (body mass index, waist circumference, tricep skinfold, and percentile of weight-for-age and z-scores), and there was no overall difference in the likelihood of being overweight.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, issued in 2005 by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture noted that while whole fruit provides fiber, "the fruit juices most commonly consumed by older children and adults provide more vitamin C, folate, and potassium in portions usually consumed than do the commonly eaten fruits."

The guidelines recommended that at least one fruit serving in a daily diet come from 100% juice, noted Dr. Nicklas, a member of the guidelines advisory committee.

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