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Kids Are Sweet Enough Already



It goes against logic.  It goes against the wisdom of grandmothers.  It goes against what pediatricians had told mothers for years. 

“Kids are sweet enough already --- please don’t start them on juice.” 

But it’s made from fruit---and fruit is good---Right?

Over the past decade, ever since the obesity epidemic has come to light, pediatricians have been rethinking the old wisdom of what we feed our children.  How did we miss the trends that led to almost one third of our children being overweight or obese?  Many of our children are overweight by a year or two of age, setting trends that can affect their health for the rest of their lives and even plant the seeds for the diseases that can take decades off of their lives.

There are many factors that feed into the problem but, to be thorough, we start our search for the causes from the very beginning.  We have encouraged breastfeeding or bottle feeding on demand.  That’s good.  We encouraged delaying solid foods until 4-6 months of age. Again, a smart move.

But there it was, “the low-hanging fruit”.  For decades, pediatricians had encouraged mothers to start feeding their infants juice as early as 4 months of age.  We now realize that juice, by leaving out the pulp of the fruit, is mainly highly concentrated sugar.  The amount of “simple sugar calories” in fruit juice puts it in a category rivaled only by soda, sweetened tea and many sports and energy drinks.  The benefit of any good nutrient in juice is washed away by the blank calories.  What is more, it introduces the idea that thirst should be quenched by sweetness. 

By a year of age, I encourage parents to give milk as a scheduled drink and to direct all thirst to water rather than juice.   The kids are still just as sweet as they ever were.