A Sweet Song
“Why do you have a problem with juice, SingingDrJosh?” you might ask. Well, in theory I don’t – fruit is great and I not-so-secretly LOVE orange juice. The problem is with the quantity that many kids drink.
Here’s some interesting data from a big study in Pediatrics a few years ago that looked at general trends in juice intake. First, 70-80% of kids have some sugary beverage every day (juice, soda etc.). Of those kids, the average 2-5 year old will drink about 2 cups (176 calories or 11 percent of their daily calorie intake), the 6-11 year old about 2.5 cups (229/11) and the 12-19 year old over 4 cups or 334 calories (16%)! This data is from the chart below (where SSB = sugar-sweetened beverage and FJ = 100% fruit juice).
In contrast, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends less than 4-6 ounces (about half a cup) of juice per day in kids up to 6 years old and 8-12 ounces of juice/sugary beverages thereafter. In essence, juice (or other sugary beverages) should be considered a delicious special treat – not part of a child’s normal diet. While a cup of juice may contain a bunch of vitamin C, generally, it also contains as much sugar as soda, and significantly more calories (and less fiber) than if you had eaten an actual piece of fruit. While the sugar in fruit juice may be “natural” – from a calorie standpoint, sugar is sugar (in my opinion there is little metabolic difference between the various sugars).
Other studies have demonstrated a small, but significant effect of sugary beverage intake on obesity; when 1/3 of our children and adolescents are overweight and obese, modulating juice intake can be an important part of encouraging a healthy lifestyle for our kids. Of course this is also in conjunction with many other modifiable obesity risk factors such as exercise, TV, video games, sleep, health during pregnancy, and nutrition from day 1 of life – including breastfeeding and initiation of solid foods (wait until 4-6 months!). Of course, that’s another huge topic – way too big for this little two minute ditty.
In summary – it may be a little thing, but keeping juice intake moderate – 4-6 ounces per day for the younger kids (6 or under) and 8-12 ounces a day for the older kids is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and a great topic for a sweet music video!
Incidentally, in case you’re wondering how many sugar cubes my kids ate during the last chorus: that was approximately 100 sugar cubes – equivalent to two cups of fruit juice per person. Here’s the math: 100 cubes divided by 4 people equals 25 cubes per person. Each cube is half a teaspoon of sugar, which comes to 12.5 teaspoons per person. There are about 6 teaspoons of sugar per cup of juice, so 12 teaspoons is the amount of sugar in two cups of juice. So. . . if we had equally divided all of those sugar cubes and eaten every one, we would only have eaten as much sugar as the average juice drinking 2-5 year old takes in each day. Of course in reality, I actually ate the vast majority of the sugar cubes. I think my kids had about one each (although you can see Lucas chewing at least 2-3 of them towards the end).
Many many thanks to Dario Arico for his adding his pitch perfect piano stylings to this song. I have been playing intermittently with Dario over the past year and a half and it is always a joy to hear him play. You can watch some non-medical songs I’ve played with him here: Roma and Appalachian Night.