Obesity in children and teens is a high amount of body fat that can cause serious health issues, such as diabetes and high blood pressure and cholesterol. Children who are overweight have a Body Mass Index (BMI) score between the 85th and 94th percentiles for their age group. Children who are obese are at or above the 95th percentile.
Fruit juice is a common beverage for children because it is a good source of vitamin C; however, fruit juice also contain a lot of calories from sugar. Researchers wanted to determine the association between 100% fruit juice consumption and change in BMI or BMI z score in children. A BMI z score is a BMI score that is adjusted for a child's age and sex. The study, published in Pediatrics, found that consumption of 100% fruit juice is associated with a small amount of weight gain in children ages 1 to 6 years that is not clinically significant and is not associated with weight gain in children 7 to 18 years.
The study included 8 prospective cohort studies examining the association of 100% fruit juice and change in BMI measures.
A meta-analysis of the studies revealed that consuming 1 daily 6- to 8-ounce serving of 100% fruit juice was associated with:
100% fruit juice consumption was not associated with BMI z score increase in children ages 7 to 18 years.
A meta-analysis is a mathematical method that combines the results of several smaller studies in order to improve the reliability of the results. Studies chosen for inclusion in a meta-analysis must be similar in a number of characteristics in order to accurately combine their results. In this analysis, the observational studies differed in exposure assessment and adjustments based on participant characteristics, making the end result less reliable. The trials were also observational studies which can show some potential link between 2 factors but cannot show cause and effect. So while this study did not show a statistically significant connection between fruit juice and child weight gain, it can not confirm that fruit juice was the cause.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that caregivers do not give fruit juice to children under 12 months and that they limit it to 4-6 ounces in children 1 to 6 and 1 cup in children 7 to 18. If your child is overweight, talk to the doctor about health risks related to obesity and how you can help your child lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. To help reduce your child's chance of being overweight or obese, encourage your child to eat a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
American Academy of Pediatrics
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Auerbach B, Wolf F, et al. Fruit juice and change in BMI: a meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 2017 Apr;139(4). Available at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/139/4/e20162454.long. Accessed September 25, 2017.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Fruit juice in infants, children, and adolescents: current recommendations. Pediatrics. 2017 Jun;139(6). Available at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2017/05/18/peds.2017-0967. Accessed September 25, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP