Kids aren’t eating enough whole fruit
As many parents know, helping children maintain a well-balanced diet can be difficult, but essential to good health. Now, researchers from the National Center for Health Statistics have found that, on average, children are consuming their recommended daily intake of fruit, but consuming too much of it in juice form.
Researchers looked at data from more than 3,000 U.S. children 2 to 19 years old. On average, children consume 1.25 cups of fruit per day, which falls within the recommended dietary guidelines. However, they are consuming more than 33 percent of their fruit in juice form, and 53 percent as whole fruit.
“Fruit is an important part of a balanced diet, so it is encouraging that children are consuming enough,” says Dr. Catherine Macyko, pediatrician at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill. “It is concerning that so much is in juice form. Whole fruits are the healthiest way to consume fruit because they contain fiber and no added sugars. When drinking juice, you are missing out on some of the health benefits of fruit.”
When researchers broke down the demographics, they found that younger children consumed more of their fruit from juice than their older counterparts. Additionally, black children consumed more of their fruit as juice than white and Hispanic children.
The study also looked at the types of fruit kids are eating. Apples, bananas and melons were the most popular, comprising nearly 33 percent of all fruit consumption. As for juice, kids heavily favored citrus.
“When drinking fruit juice, children are taking in a lot of calories, but not left feeling satiated, which can lead to overeating,” says Dr. Macyko. “If we want to help our kids grow healthy and strong, we need to teach them to eat well from a young age.”
Dr. Macyko suggests that parents who want tips for encouraging their children to eat fruit visit the American Academy of Pediatrics’s free parenting website at HealthyChildren.org.
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