The American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines for fruit juice consumption in children in late May. Previous guidelines stated that juice should not be offered to any infant under six months old. Now, guidelines advise against juice consumption for any child under the age of one.
Dr. Steven A. Abrams, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas and co-author of the policy statement, explained that the new policy changes reflect the AAP’s beliefs regarding obesity and cavities in children.
“We couldn’t really see any reason why juice was still part of the potential recommendation for 6- to 12-month-old kids,” Abrams told CNN. “We recommend breastfeeding or formula in that age group, and there really isn’t any need or beneficial role for juice, so we kind of made that adjustment.”
As it stands now, more than 40% of children have dental cavities by the time they’re ready to enter kindergarten. Under the new AAP guidelines, preventing dehydration and cutting down sugar consumption take precedence over fruity drinks.
As part of the new guidelines, the AAP has crafted suggestions for introducing juice into a child’s diet. Rather than offering juice alone, it’s recommended that parents serve it with a meal or a snack. In addition, the AAP recommends offering a piece of actual fruit instead of a glass of juice when a child asks for something sweet.
“We primarily are supporting that kids learn how to eat fruit rather than fruit juice,” Abrams said.
With fruit in mind rather than juice, the AAP guidelines are also focusing on portion control. By giving a child a small cup of juice with a snack, they won’t be tempted to sip at it all day long. The average American consumes ice cream almost 28.5 times in a year, but creating healthier habits from a young age may result in better portion control for ice cream and other treats later in life.
While the AAP strongly believes in these guidelines, they’re still just that: guidelines. These aren’t strict rules that parents must follow, but they do provide some excellent insight into what could help form healthy habits in your child later in life.
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