Several conflicting reports in the news recently have called into question the nutritional benefit, or detriment in some cases, of fruit juice consumption by children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a statement about “the use and misuse of fruit juice in pediatrics” and then just months later published a report that clearly states that obesity in preschool-age children is not linked to consumption of 100 percent fruit juices. So which is it? Is fruit juice a culprit in childhood obesity or not?

Stated simply, there are a lot of dangers to your child’s health that rank much higher than drinking too much fruit juice, but like anything else, too much of any one thing can be a problem. Additionally, there are so many different varieties of juice available, so it is important to identify which fruit juices have benefits, and which fall into the “junk food” category.

The truth is fruit juice can be a healthy part of a child’s diet when the proper product is consumed in moderation. In fact, many kids don’t like eating fruit, so offering fruit juice is one way to get your child the necessary amount of fruit recommended in the Food Pyramid Guide. A 6-ounce glass of 100% fruit juice can substitute for one serving of fruit, and the AAP advises that half of your child’s fruit servings from the Food Pyramid Guide can come from 100% fruit juice. Again, moderation is the key. Toddlers generally drink too much juice when they always have a sippie cup in their hands, or using a cup like they would a bottle. Though sippie cups are convenient, if your child always has one in his hands then he is probably most at risk of gaining unnecessary weight since he is virtually on a constant sugar drip!

Identifying the “right” juice product is just as important as regulating moderate consumption. Parents should look for a 100% fruit juice that has no added sugars or preservatives. Old Orchard’s line of 100% fruit juice is a fine example of a real fruit product that will offer nutritional benefits from the juice because it is a 100% juice with no added sugars or preservatives. Juices to avoid will read “made with 5% juice” and the like—more often than not these juices have artificial flavors, preservatives and a lot of sugar—these are the most likely culprit of obesity, tooth decay and poor nutrition.

In general, if you child is eating a well balanced diet that includes fresh fruits, vegetables, milk and other dairy products, and he doesn’t have problems with cavities or being overweight, then he likely doesn’t have a problem with drinking too much juice, even if you are exceeding 12 ounces of juice per day.

So, in the end, the right juice consumed in moderation should add to your child’s overall health and nutrition.

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