There is nothing wrong with orange juice (public relations manufactured health halo aside), just like there is nothing wrong with Pepsi, they should both be treats. Unfortunately, for the U.S., the richest country in the world, no food need ever be a treat, they can all be purchased every day. And that is bad for kids.
Given that, why is a nutritional epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only worried about added sugar? Too much sugar is too much, regardless of the source. Well, the issue is government, who make decisions as much based on politics as science, and then find government employees who agree. And that is a concern if we want the public to trust government health findings.
Instead, lead study author Kirsten Herrick, at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting in Boston, is scaremongering added sugar and saying this is important in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Her statistics note that in a survey 99 percent of US toddlers age 19-23 months consumed an average of just over 7 teaspoons of added sugar on a given day - equivalent to a chocolate bar. Sixty percent of children were found to consume added sugar before age 1.
Obviously the children were not surveyed, the parents were. But surveys are not indicative of much. On surveys, no one claims to be anti-science. On surveys, just as many Democrats as Republicans claim to be anti-vaccine. But in actual behavior, the coast of California, 80 percent Democrats, lead the nation in anti-vaccine behavior, which Republican states like Alabama and Mississippi have almost no exemptions. Recall by parents, with all of its inherent confounders, should not be used to scaremonger food groups. It was how we got the low-fat craze, it was how we got told trans fats were healthier for cooking than butter. If kids eat an extra candy bar or three oranges, the calories are the same. A toddler will get fat eating 200 calories extra of anything.
Yet Herrick doesn't accept that calories are calories. "The easiest way to reduce added sugars in your own diet and your kids' diet is to choose foods that you know don't have them, like fresh fruits and vegetables."
The data were from parents asked to log food for 24 hours. The authors only considered added cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey - no sugars that occur naturally in fruits, vegetables and milk. Which is in defiance of biology.
Yes, toddlers eat too much added sugar, so do most Americans, but by letting lobbyists at the high end dictate epidemiological parameters. we aren't improving outcomes. Currently only 2% of Americans can obey government nutrition guidelines, which means they are irrelevant. Once the public sees one aspect as impossible, they disregard them all.
CDC epidemiologists need to get back to being trusted guides for the public, and not looking for new things to get consumers worried about. They can start by noting that calories and energy are the way to prevent obesity and numerous health outcomes. Picking winners and losers among foods and treats is doing Americans a disservice.