No snowflake in an avalanche takes the blame.

Using the same database that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses to confirm the rise in obesity rates, researchers have concluded that 100 percent juice is not associated with young children being overweight or at risk for becoming overweight.

The research abstract, presented today at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ annual meeting in Toronto, looked at dietary intakes of 3,618 children ages 2-11 using the well-known National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

According to Dr. Theresa Nicklas, “We did not find a relationship between 100 percent juice consumption and overweight among children.” She adds, “Even among the children who consumed the most juice, we found no association at all with the children being overweight or at risk for overweight.” Dr. Nicklas, a child nutrition researcher at the USDA Children’s Nutrition Research Center at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, found that 100 percent juice consumption also did not decrease the amount of milk consumed in children’s diets, which appears to be a common misconception.

The mean consumption for this childhood population was 4.1 ounces (about ½ cup), an amount that is keeping with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Although there were a few children (13 percent) in this age group who consumed larger amounts of juice (12 ounces or more), their increased consumption was not associated with overweight or at risk for being overweight. In fact, children in the 2-3 year old category who drank the most juice were nearly three times less likely to be overweight or at risk for overweight than children who drank no juice at all.

Nicklas and her colleagues also found that children 2-11 years old had healthier overall diets, and those who drank any amount of 100 percent juice (“juice consumers”) ate less total fat, saturated fat, sodium, added sugars and added fats. Juice consumers had higher intakes of a number of key nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, folate, B6 and iron. Similarly, juice consumers also were found to eat more total fruit (including whole fruit) servings than non-juice consumers.

Dr. Nicklas said she was shocked to see that 57 percent of the children in this 2-11 age group drank no juice at all. According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee, of which she was a member, that Committee’s report recommended that at least one of the fruit servings come from 100% fruit juice. Factors used by NHANES to determine bodyweight calculations include body mass index, waist circumference, tricep skinfold, and percentile of a weight-for-age and z-scores (both are measurements designed for children).

Other researchers who contributed to this research include Ron Kleinman, MD (Harvard School of Medicine) and Carol O’Neil, PhD ( Louisiana State University).

Source: Baylor College of Medicine