Juice vs. fruit drinks

June 13, 1998|By Teri Johnson

Many parents come up dry when trying to choose healthful drinks for their children.

In a recent survey by The Gallup Organization, pediatricians said they believe many parents aren't aware of the role beverages play in their children's diets. Most doctors recommended that they serve 100 percent fruit juice instead of fruit-flavored beverages.

Many people don't understand the difference between fruit juices and fruit drinks, says Dr. Marianne Neifert, a Denver pediatrician known as "Dr. Mom" who writes for Parenting and Baby Talk magazines.

Neifert, the mother of five grown children and author of "Dr. Mom" and "Dr. Mom's Parenting Guide," says 100 percent fruit juice doesn't have added sugar. Choices include grape, apple, orange, pineapple and grapefruit juices.


Dr. Edward Arnett, a pediatrician with a private practice in Martinsburg, W.Va., says it's important to read the label.

Beverages containing juice must list the percentage on the information label above the Nutrition Facts panel.

Fruit drinks, beverages, cocktails or ades contain less than 100 percent juice and have sweeteners added. Some may contain only 5 or 10 percent juice.

If the label says 100 percent fruit juice, the product contains a single juice or blend. It offers many of the same nutrients as a piece of fruit, with the exception of fiber, and counts as a serving from the fruit group in the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Guide Pyramid.

Fruit juice includes carbohydrates, a child's main energy source; vitamins and minerals needed for growth and development; and phytonutrients, food components occurring naturally in plant foods that may give health benefits similar to antioxidants.

There's no reason to settle for less than 100 percent fruit juices, because they cost about the same as fruit drinks, Neifert says.

Neifert says beverages aren't just for quenching thirst or washing down food; they can meet the serving requirements in one of the food groups and can round out a diet. Milk counts as a serving from the dairy group, tomato or carrot juice fits into the vegetable group and 100 percent fruit juice is a serving in the fruit group.

Fruit drinks and sodas contain added sugar and count as a serving in the fats, oils and sweets group that should be used sparingly.

Arleen Shuster, a registered dietitian and nutritionist for the Women, Infants and Children Program at Washington County Health Department, says parents often give their children too many beverages.

"They're filling up on Kool-Aid and sodas, and they're not eating nutritious foods," Shuster says.

She says to bypass the supermarket aisle containing flavored drinks.

"Good, old water is best for you," she says.

Children need about 8 to 12 cups of water each day, and beverages such as milk and fruit juice and water in foods all count toward that total.

Arnett says 8 to 16 ounces of fruit juice a day is enough for most children ages 2 to 6.

How much water each child needs varies with activity level, age, height and weight, Shuster says.

Arnett recommends that children be allowed to drink as much as they want, except in certain circumstances such as when a child wets the bed.

He says to set a good example for your kids, as people tend to continue the eating and drinking patterns they develop early in life.

Here are some hints for getting your child to drink more fruit juice:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> Use a cup or glass featuring cartoon characters and provide an unusual straw.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> Mix equal parts of sparkling water with apple juice or other fruit juice for a refreshing, fizzy drink.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> Freeze juice in plastic cups and make your own juice-sicles, or freeze juice in ice cube trays.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> Buy juice in boxes, squeeze bottles or pouches for a quick, convenient drink.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> Serve juice diluted with equal parts of water.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> Create your own punch by mixing together your favorite fruit juices and serving in a punch bowl.

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