It’s been a long time since I’ve written about juice. But if you’ve been following It’s Not About Nutrition for even a second you can probably guess my take on it.

Juice boxes are training wheels for soda.

The nutrition news about juice is bad enough. Ounce-for-ounce it has as much sugar as soda. Read Juice: Apple, Grape, Punch.

But the habits news is worse. The more you train your kids’ taste buds to sweet flavors the less they’ll enjoy other flavors…like broccoli. Read Training Tiny Tastebuds.

Do you remember that interesting study I wrote about a year ago that showed that children were relatively disinterested in eating their veggie snack after consuming only a small amount of Hawaiian Punch? When they drank water the results were the opposite? (If not, read Water vs Punch and Soda) Makes you think!

Now, two studies confirm that, contrary to what manufacturers want you to believe, drinking juice is not the same as eating fruit.

  • The first study shows: Eating whole fruit may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, while drinking fruit juice may raise the risk.
  • The second study shows: Whole fruit curbs appetite better than juice.

Nothing earth-shattering here. Both studies make sense.

  • Study one: If you drink juice you release a lot of sugar into your blood stream but when you eat fruit the fiber regulates the sugar.
  • Study two: How full would your belly be if you ate an apple, 4/5 cup of red grapes, 1/4 cup of raisins, and 1/2 cup of dried apple compared to if you drank 1 3/4 cup of apple and 1 1/3 cup of grape juice? Both “menus” deliver 400 calories.

Given all this evidence, why would you willingly foster a juice-drinking habit?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children 1-6 consume no more than 4-6 ounces of juice per day. However, research shows that most 2-5 year olds who drink 100% juice consume an average of 10 ounces per day.

Why? Because juice benefits from the Health Halo. And, because kids like juice. (What’s not to like?) But liking something isn’t a good enough reason to consume it regularly. For a thought-provoking take on this read Coke Beats Juice.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Source: Center for Science in the Public Interest. 2013. “Fruit 2, Juice 0” Nutrition Action Healthletter, 40(9): 8; Wojcicki and Heyman, 2012, American Journal of Public Health, 102 (9): 1630-1633.