According to a recent Pediatrics study, U.S. kids’ favorite fruits are apples and bananas, and children get their recommended intake of fruits on a daily basis. Unfortunately, they get much of this intake in juice form.
U.S. researchers found that kids eat on average 1.25 cups of fruit on a daily basis, while health authorities’ recommendation fall somewhere between the 1 to 2 cups range.
But researchers were horrified to learn that one-third of fruits are consumed as juice. In children under the age of five, that number reached 41 percent, study authors noted.
Yoni Freedhoff, lead author of the study, explained that juice doesn’t have all the nutrients and fibers whole fruits have. Freedhoff also said that juice is primarily a mix of water and added sugar so it is more related to soft drinks than to the fruits it derived from.
According to the study, 53 percent of kids’ daily fruit diet is made of whole fruits, but one-third of that diet is made of ‘natural’ fruit juices. Additionally, kids also get their daily fruit vitamins from mixed foods such as fruit smoothies.
Researchers learned that black teens are less likely to consume whole fruits (43 percent of the daily intake), while Asian teens get their daily fruit intake from whole products (60 percent). Children in grade school are more likely to get their fruit intake from whole fruits than preschoolers, who cover 41 percent of their fruit intake with natural juices. In grade schoolers, only 28 percent of daily fruit is made of fruit juices.
Researchers explained that switching from whole fruits to fruit juice was not a healthy choice because the calories in juices do not help children feel full longer as whole fruits do. As a result, fruit juice may also contribute to childhood obesity epidemic.
Scientists based their study on a two-year-long CDC survey that involved more than 3,000 kids and adolescents. Teens and parents of kids detailed what children consumed in the past 24 hours. The answers where then introduced into a computer model which generated eating patterns across the nation.
The research team was pleased that at least kids eat fruits, but they plan to urge authorities and parents to persuade the little ones to get 100 percent of their daily fruit from whole fruits, and ditch fruit juices.
Researchers also noted that children do not eat too many types of fruits. Their all time favorites are bananas, apples, and melon, so adjustments could be made here, as well. About 50 percent of grade schoolers and preschoolers’ fruit intake is made of bananas, citrus juice, apples and apple juice.
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