Hey parents, surprise, fruit juice is not fruit

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Many American children consume more than half of their fruit as juice, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidelines clarifying its stance on that substitution: For most kids, it’s a bad thing.

The new guidelines aren’t just intended to persuade pediatricians to talk to parents about the disadvantages of the ubiquitous juice box. They also take aim at the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are the basis for the nutritional guidelines in the Department of Agriculture’s School Lunch Program — guidelines that allow for the replacement of half of the recommended daily servings of fruits with 100 percent fruit juice, a substitution that has been enthusiastically embraced by the food and beverage industry and school lunch programs nationwide.

Language in the Dietary Guidelines points back to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ earlier recommendations with respect to fruit juice (last updated in 2001), which could best be described as disgruntled acceptance of a fruit-juice-for-fruit substitution. In them, the academy danced around the question of whether whole fruit was better for children than its juice, backing gently up to the issue by noting that juice “offers no nutritional benefits over whole fruit” while at the same time accepting the inclusion of a significant amount of juice in the diets of children over 6 months of age. Juice, they said, was fine if served as part of a snack or meal, although “easily overconsumed” especially if offered in an easily transportable form that encouraged consumption throughout the day. Read More

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