05/23/2017 02:33 EDT

Pediatricians Draw The Line: Stop Giving Juice To Your Infants

Put down the juice box, and back away from it slowly. And never, ever pick it up again.

That's apparently the advice of pediatricians when it comes to your kids' favourite portable beverage, and to be honest, it shouldn't be much of a surprise.

juice and kids

The majority of people know that juice — especially the processed kind that comes in a box — contains all sorts of sugar, but that hasn't stopped us from giving it to our kids for years anyway.

But now the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is taking a hard line with age limits in a new article in the journal Pediatrics.

According to the piece, pediatricians have historically recommended juice as a source of vitamin C, hydration and even for constipation, and of course, the drink has always targeted kids from an advertising perspective.

The article also distinguishes between fruit juice, which comes directly from a fruit and can contain useful nutrients, and fruit drink, which is a processed product and has little to no nutritional value.

But as the authors note, even the calories in fruit juice are problematic, as they can cause weight gain, while the sugar in it can cause cavities. Getting even more specific, the lack of protein and fibre might contribute to "inappropriate" weight gain (either up or down) because juice is so much easier to consume than an actual piece of fruit.

"The minor nutritional benefits are dramatically outweighed by the major danger of too much sugar."

In a blog entitled "Why Fruit Juice Is The Real Health Killer," HuffPost senior editor Joshua Ostroff noted, "The minor nutritional benefits are dramatically outweighed by the major danger of too much sugar. And the fact that the industry has tricked people into thinking fruit juice is healthy makes it, in my view, worse [than soft drinks]."

So what's a well-intentioned parent (who wants their kid to be healthy, but also appreciates that juice tastes delicious) to do?

For just that reason, the AAP released age-specific guidelines for juice consumption, and one thing is clear: babies under one year shouldn't get juice. At all.

juice recommendations

"Offering juice before solid foods are introduced into the diet could risk having juice replace human milk or infant formula in the diet, which can result in reduced intakes of protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc," warns the article. "Malnutrition and short stature in children have been associated with excessive consumption of juice."

As for kids of other ages, think of juice like you would any other treat — it's fine in moderation, but shouldn't be relied upon for nutrition or health.

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