California Kids Replacing Soda With Sugary Fruit Juices
May 31, 2013

Researchers Warn About Increasing Fruit Juice Consumption Amongst Minority Kids

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

While fewer and fewer California children are consuming sodas, minority kids are more likely to replace those sweetened beverages with 100 percent fruit juice drinks that contain just as much sugar, according to new research from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

The study, which is said to be the first to compare trends of sugary drinks and 100 percent juice consumption in the state of California, showed that African-American and Latino children were more likely to be replacing soda with fruit juice than white youngsters.

“The decrease in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among kids is a promising public health trend,” lead author Dr. Amy Beck, a pediatrician at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital and San Francisco General Hospital, said in a statement. “But it is concerning that minority children are increasing their consumption of 100 percent fruit juice, which often has just as much sugar as soda.”

“Parents who are thinking actively about nutrition wouldn't give their kids Coca-Cola, but might give apple juice, but 8 ounces of Coca Cola contains 27 grams of sugar, as does 8 ounces of apple juice,” she added. “We need to make sure parents understand the best thing to replace soda is water or milk.”

Data for the study was originally obtained as part of the California Health Interview Survey — a series of telephone interviews conducted every two years from 2003 through 2009 that asked parents how many servings of each type of drink their two-to-eleven-year-old children had consumed the previous day.

Dr. Beck and her colleagues found that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among all ethnicities decreased from 40 percent in 2003 to 16 percent in 2009 among children ages two to five. In addition, among children between the ages of six to 10, consumption levels fell from 54 percent in 2003 to 33 percent in 2009.

They also found that consumption rates were highest amongst Latinos, African-Americans and children of parents with lower levels of education. Consumption of two or more servings of 100 percent fruit juice per day fell among white children between two and five years of age and held steady for those between the ages of six and 11.

However, those levels increased amongst Latino children of both age groups, as well as older African-American kids, the researchers discovered. Their findings will be detailed in their entirety in the June/July issue of the journal Academic Pediatrics.

“Our results stress the need for more education on healthy beverages and making sure these messages reach all ethnic groups,” Dr. Beck said. “It's crucial that the public health message reflect that 100 percent fruit juice should be limited, and not used as a substitute for soda.”

“There has been a lot of focus in California on reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, and that appears to be working,” she added. “However, parents are getting mixed messages about juice, and some parents appear to be using it as a replacement for the sugar-sweetened beverages, rather than turning to water or milk.”