A new study from Boston University published online at BMC Nutrition by Lynn L. Moore and colleagues found that drinking 100% fruit juice early in life was associated with healthier dietary patterns in later childhood without adversely impacting weight gain. The study found that consumption of 100% fruit juice during the preschool years was associated with higher intakes of whole fruit and total fruit as well as better diet quality through childhood and into middle adolescence.
"We know that whole fruit intake as well as diet quality typically decline from early childhood through adolescence," said Dr. Moore. "This research provides important information showing that children who consumed about 1.5 cups of 100% fruit juice per day during the preschool years tended to maintain healthier diets into adolescence than children who drank less than ½ cup per day during preschool. In addition, over 10 years of follow-up, juice consumption within the range typically consumed by these children (1-2 cups per day), was not associated with excess weight gain during childhood."
Preschoolers who consumed more fruit juice in the early years of childhood in this study also consumed more whole fruit at the same time and continued to consume more whole fruit into adolescence.
The study tracked diet records as well as height and weight data, from a group 100 children (age 3-6) enrolled in the Framingham Children's Study and followed them for a decade. Whole and total fruit consumption was assessed using recommendations from Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) at each age.
Among the study's results were the following:
Preschoolers with higher intakes of 100% fruit juice (?1 cups/day) had significantly higher intakes of whole fruit and total fruit at 14-17 years of age than those children who consumed little juice (
Preschoolers who drank more 100% fruit juice were nearly 4 times as likely to meet current Dietary Guideline recommendations for whole and total fruit intake during adolescence than those preschoolers with low intakes.
Those children with higher fruit juice intakes during preschool years had significantly higher diet quality scores than those children with lower juice intakes at all ages.
Fruit juice consumption was not associated with change in Body Mass Index (BMI) during childhood and into middle adolescence.
"Fruit consumption, particularly whole fruit consumption, has many health benefits throughout the lifespan. Avoiding juice during these early formative years may have unintended effects on evolving dietary behaviors," noted Dr. Moore.
"This study confirms findings from several previous studies suggesting juice drinking in young children may promote better diet quality and higher intakes of whole fruit. These benefits, associated with moderate intakes of 100% fruit juice, were not accompanied by any adverse effects on childhood weight."