Parents who are worried about serving their children juice can now feel confident that they are helping their children develop long-term positive dietary habits.
A new study from Boston University found that drinking 100% fruit juice early in life was associated with healthier dietary patterns in later childhood without adversely impacting weight gain. The research shows consumption of 100% juice during preschool years is associated with higher intakes of whole fruit intake and total fruit as well as better diet quality through childhood and into middle adolescence. It demonstrates that drinking 100% fruit juice early in life can have long-term dietary benefits for children without affecting weight.
This study confirms findings from several previous studies suggesting juice drinking in young children may promote better diet quality and higher intakes of whole fruit.
Authored by Lynn Moore DSc, the study tracked diet records as well as height and weight data, from a group 100 children (age 3-6) enrolled in the Framingham Children’s Study and followed them for a decade. Whole and total fruit consumption was assessed using Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommendations at each age.
Among the study’s results was the following:
- Preschoolers with higher amounts of 100% juice (more than 1 cup per day) had significantly higher intakes of whole fruit and total fruit at 14-17 years of age than those who consumed little juice (less than half a cup per day).
- Preschoolers who drank 100% fruit juice were almost four times as likely to meet current Dietary Guideline recommendations for whole and total fruit intake during adolescence than, those preschoolers with low intakes.
- Those children with higher fruit juice intakes during preschool years had significantly higher diet quality scores than those children with lower juice intakes at all ages.
- Fruit juice consumption was not associated with change in Body Mass Index (BMI) during childhood and into middle adolescence.
Juice is an easy, nutritious and affordable way for many families to supplement their whole fruit intake. This study shows drinking juice has a positive effect on diet quality through childhood and when kids need it most, in adolescence.