I've heard that fruit juice is a good source of vitamins but that it can contribute to obesity. Is it OK to give my child fruit juice?
Answers from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
Certain types of fruit juice can be a healthy part of your child's diet.
Research suggests that drinking moderate amounts of 100 percent fruit juice doesn't affect a child's weight. However, fruit juice contains calories. Just like any other food or calorie-containing drink, too much fruit juice can contribute to weight gain.
If you choose to give your child fruit juice, choose 100 percent fruit juice instead of sweetened juice or fruit-juice cocktails. While 100 percent fruit juice and sweetened fruit drinks might have similar amounts of calories, your child will get more vitamins and nutrients and fewer additives from 100 percent juice.
To ensure your child isn't drinking too much juice, follow these limits from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Birth to 6 months. No fruit juice, unless it's used to relieve constipation.
- 6 to 12 months. If juice is given, limit it to 4 to 6 ounces (118 to 177 milliliters) and serve it in a cup (not a bottle) to avoid tooth decay.
- 1 to 6 years. Up to 6 ounces (177 milliliters) a day.
- 7 years and older. Up to 12 ounces (355 milliliters) a day.
Six ounces (177 milliliters) of 100 percent fruit juice equals one serving of fruit. Juice lacks the fiber of whole fruit, however, and can be consumed more quickly. Although a reasonable amount of fruit juice each day is fine for most children, remember that whole fruit is an even better option.
March 14, 2014
- Nicklas TA, et al. Association between 100% juice consumption and nutrient intake and weight of children aged 2 to 11 years. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. 2008;162:557.
- O'Connor TM, et al. Beverage intake among preschool children and its effect on weight status. Pediatrics. 2006;118:e1010.
- American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. The use and misuse of fruit juice in pediatrics. Pediatrics. 2001;107:1210.
- Dietary recommendations for children and adolescents: A guide for practitioners. American Academy of Pediatrics Policy. http://aappolicy.aappublications.org. Accessed Nov. 21, 2013.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm. Accessed Dec. 10, 2013.
- Schor EL, et al. Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books; 1999:516.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 10, 2013.