Report: Kids in low-income families drink too much juice

2009 07 02 11 58 43 214 Orange Juice 70

A new report from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health revealed that many kids in low-income families are getting more than the recommended amount of juice, putting them at greater risk of developing early childhood caries.

The poll asked parents of young children of all economic levels about their children's juice consumption. Overall, 35% reported that their children 1 to 5 years old have two or more cups of juice on a typical day.

But the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting fruit juice in children age 1 to 6 to one serving per day.

"It is important to limit juice consumption in young children, because there is such a strong link between consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and child health problems like obesity and early tooth decay," Sarah Clark, MPH, associate director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan, said in a press release.

Of parents whose household income is less than $30,000 annually, 49% report that their children drink two or more cups of juice per day. Only 23% of parents with household incomes of $100,000 or more report that their children drink two or more cups of juice per day.

These findings are concerning, Clark noted.

"Both childhood obesity and early dental problems are more prevalent in lower-income children, so the children we're most worried about in terms of these conditions are also those who are drinking the most juice," she said.

Some parents may encourage their children to drink juice because it can help their child receive the recommended servings of fruit consumed each day.

The poll also found that 35% of lower-income parents said that their child's doctor recommends juice.

"This is an important message for health care providers as well as parents," Clark said. "Doctors need to be very specific in letting parents know that whole fruit is the best way to have a child get the recommended servings of fruit and that fruit juice should be limited to no more than one serving per day for kids 6 years and younger."

The survey was administered in September 2011 to a randomly selected, stratified group of parents age 18 and older (n = 606) with a child age 1 to 5 from the KN standing panel that closely resembles the U.S. population, according to the researchers.

The sample was subsequently weighted to reflect population figures from the Census Bureau. The survey completion rate was 58% among parent panel members contacted to participate. The margin of error was ± 5% to 11%.

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