Findings of the meta-analysis support that 100 percent fruit juice consumption by children is not likely linked to obesity.
BARTOW – A new study provides evidence that consumption of 100 percent fruit juice, such as 100% orange juice, was not associated with weight gain in children over the age of 6 and is not expected to have an appreciable effect on weight gain in those under 6, according to a meta-analysis published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
In a commentary accompanying the study, the authors pointed out that past research shows that fruit juice is part of a high-quality diet, counts as a fruit serving, is convenient, and has a longer shelf life compared to whole fruit. They note that the findings of the meta-analysis support that 100 percent fruit juice consumption by children is not likely linked to obesity. While there are gaps in the literature, they conclude that there is no strong evidence that 100 percent fruit juice should be banned for all children, or in programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
Published in March, the study evaluated research related to the consumption of 100 percent fruit juice and changes in body mass index (BMI) among children ages 1 to 18 years. The meta-analysis comprised eight published studies that included over 34,000 individual children and looked at BMI or the BMI z-score, which indicates how weight changes with height over time and whether the changes are out of proportion with each other.
The study showed that for children age 6 and younger, a small amount of weight gain was observed but the amount was not considered to be clinically significant, meaning that the amount would likely not have any practical, genuine, or noticeable effect. The researchers reasoned that children age 2 and younger may be more susceptible to weight gain from 100 percent juice because it represents a larger proportion of their total daily calorie intake compared to older children. The authors also noted that the primary juice consumed by younger children is apple juice, whereas orange juice is favored by older children and has a lower glycemic load than apple juice. Although more research is needed for children age 6 and under, the AAP’s fruit juice intake guideline limits (4 to 6 ounces for children age 1 through 6 and 8 to 12 ounces for older children) are “prudent and should be followed.”
“The banning of fruit juice or failure to allow it in government food programs outside the first year of life is not consistent with the available evidence,” the authors wrote in their commentary.