Researchers found the U.S. kids follow the federal guidelines for fruit consumption which recommend 1-2 cups of fruits per day and that their all time favorites are apples and bananas. Yet, there a less good piece of news – about one third of the fruit kids consume every day comes as fruit juice.
According to the new research, which was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, U.S. kids eat on average 1.25 cups of fruit on a daily basis.
But study authors were “horrified” to learn that a full third of the fruits kids consume every day was fruit juice, mostly 100% fruit juice. Moreover, children under the age of five were more likely to drink fruit juice rather than eating whole fruits with nearly 41 percent of their daily fruit intake made of juice.
Dr, Yoni Freedhoff, lead author of the study and family medicine expert at a prestigious Canadian university, explained that because juice lacks valuable nutrients that can only be found in whole fruits and pulp which contains fiber, fruit juice is not sating.
Dr. Freedhoff added that fruit juice is mostly a mix between water and free sugar which makes it more similar to a soft drink rather than to the fruits it is supposed to come from.
Study authors found that on average 53 percent of kids’ fruit diet is made of whole fruits, while one third is made of fruit juices. Beside whole fruits and juices, kids also consume fruit smoothies or other mixed fruit dishes.
Yet, these numbers vary from one ethnic group to another. For instance, Asian Americans tend to consume more whole fruits than their white or black peers (about 60 percent of daily fruit diet). African Americans, on the other hand consume only 43 percent of daily fruit as whole fruit.
There are differences between preschoolers and kids in primary school, as well, researchers noted. While preschoolers drink 41 percent of their daily fruit, those in primary school consume only 28 percent of daily fruit intake in juice form.
Scientists argue that fruit juice is not as healthy as whole fruits in kids’ diet. Juices contain liquid calories which do not make the body to feel satiated longer. As a result, kids tend to drink more which can lead to excessive calorie intake. In time, that can also lead to overweight problems or obesity in children.
Researchers based their study on data about 3,000 children and teens with ages ranging from 2 to 19. The data was collected by the CDC during a comprehensive nutrition survey between 2011 and 2012. In the survey, parents and kids alike were asked to describe what children ate in the last 24 hours. The info was later used in a computer model that provided eating patterns of the underage population.
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