Fruit juice, long recommended as a source of vitamin C for children, has no nutritional value for kids under 1 year old and isn't as good as fresh fruit for other kids, according to a leading pediatrician group.
The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that babies not be fed any fruit juice in the first year of their lives, according to a policy statement released Monday. One-hundred percent fresh or reconstituted juice can be gradually introduced into toddlers' diets, but kids up to 18 should drink at most one cup of it per day.
Fruit juice is lacking in the protein and fiber that is found in fruits, according to the recommendations, being published in the June issue of Pediatrics. That can lead to too much or too little weight gain.
"Parents may perceive fruit juice as healthy, but it is not a good substitute for fresh fruit and just packs in more sugar and calories," said Melvin B. Heyman, co-author of the policy, in a statement. "Small amounts in moderation are fine for older kids, but are absolutely unnecessary for children under 1."
It's the first change in the academy's recommendations for 16 years, according to the statement.
Fruit drinks do not have the same value as fruit juice, the pediatricians note, and doctors may prescribe fruit juice in some instances.
The Juice Products Association on Monday saying "U.S. juice manufacturers have long supported the nutrition guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics and we agree with the AAP’s recommendation that 100% fruit juice, in both fresh and reconstituted forms, 'can be a healthy part of the diet of children older than 1 year when consumed as part of a well-balanced diet.'
"Further, juice manufacturers are aligned with the AAP’s recommendations regarding fruit juice consumption by infants. These guidelines were first published in Pediatrics in July 2015," the statement said.