The question of whether 100% fruit juice causes poor health outcomes in children, such as weight gain, has been a subject of controversy.
The study, "Fruit Juice and Change in Body Mass Index: A Meta-Analysis," in the April 2017 issue of Pediatrics (published online March 23), examined the role fruit juice plays in weight gain and increased body mass index in children 1-18 years of age.
The authors conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of eight prospective cohort studies (a total of 34,470 children). Younger children (ages 1-6 years) who consumed 1 serving per day of 100% fruit juice experienced a small, but not clinically significant, amount of weight gain. Children ages 7-18 years who consumed 1 serving per day saw no clinically significant weight gain. Younger children drink more 100% fruit juice than any other age group, and tend to drink apple juice. Older children tend to drink orange juice, which has a lower glycemic index than apple juice. The authors speculated that these differences might explain the finding that weight gain was not observed in older children.
The authors concluded that until additional studies are performed, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children ages 1-6 years limit 100% fruit juice consumption to 4-6 ounces per day and children ages 7-18 limit 100% fruit juice to 8-12 ounces per day is prudent and should be followed.
Editor's note: There is an accompanying commentary, "Fruit Juice and Child Health," being published March 23.