Fruit juice was once considered a healthy option for kids, but increasingly advice focuses on the sugar content and the damage this can do to children’s teeth and health - so should parents be banning it altogether?
The latest study by Austrian scientists suggests that children who have orange or apple juice for breakfast are 50% more likely to be overweight, so the researchers argue parents should replace juice with a piece of fruit.
They questioned 652 13-year-olds about their diets and found those who drank fruit juice more than three times a week were 50% more likely to be overweight than those who didn’t, while those who drank water saw their obesity risk fall by 40%, according to the research published at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna.
Hwoever, British Dietetic Association (BDA) spokesperson and paediatric dietitian Aisling Pigott, says the results shouldn’t scare parents into thinking they have to cut fruit juice out altogether.
“We are keen to promote the benefits of fruit juice because it does have vitamins and minerals, and if the bits haven’t been removed there’s more fibre in there,” Pigott tells HuffPost UK. “But what we do know is that it’s very easy to drink large volumes of fruit juice, which provides no additional benefits to a very small amount.”
An option that is healthier for kids, Pigott recommends, is to water down the fruit juice. She says juice is a very high sugar drink for young kids, so advises parents to dilute it at a ratio of one part fruit juice and four parts water. For older children, she recommends doing half and half, but never going above this.
When it comes to quantities, Pigott says to give your child one 100ml serving (that’s the equivalent of one of those small plastic cups you get at parties) of juice per day and no more. This should be in one serving and not spread out, to reduce the damage to teeth, while still counting as one of their five a day.
The time of day they have it, she says, doesn’t make much difference: “We’ve had lots of studies and interest about the time of day for drinks, but every body responds differently, so we don’t worry about what time you’re having things, it’s just about not going overboard.”