How Much Juice Should Kids Drink?

Preschoolers who drink too much fruit juice may be at risk for height impairment and obesity.

Too much fruit juice may make young children short and prone to obesity, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers at the Mary Imogene Bassett Research Institute and Columbia University studied dietary records kept by parents and care providers for 168 children between ages 2 and 5. They measured height, weight, and body fat to determine fruit juice's impact on growth.

Nineteen of the children drank at least 12 fluid ounces of juice a day (that's more than twice the daily average among kids this age). Of those 19, 42 percent were short in stature (their height was less than the 20th percentile for their age and sex) compared with 14 percent of children who were short but drank less than 12 ounces a day. Obesity also was more common among children who drank a lot of juice. The height of some of the children may have been impacted because they substituted excess juice for more nutritious foods, the researchers noted. And the excess juice may have resulted in extra weight gain.

Their conclusion: Moderation is best. Until more studies are done, researchers suggest limiting juice consumption to less than 12 ounces a day.

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