Putting the Squeeze on Juice: Why Too Much is Bad for Kids and How Schools Can Encourage Water Instead
|November 8, 2012||Posted by Stacy under School policy|
American kids drink too much juice. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a max of 4 to 6 ounces a day for children ages 1 to 6; 7– to 17-year-olds should have no more than 8 to 12 ounces. According to research, most kids (especially younger ones) are guzzling considerably more.
While 100 percent fruit juice may offer nutrition in the form of vitamins, it doesn’t deliver fiber the way whole fruit does. Sweet and tasty, it’s really easy for kids to consume too much. Because parents tend to perceive it as healthy, they often don’t set limits on juice. And regularly overdoing it may increase a child’s risk of becoming obese and contribute to poor nutrition and tooth decay.
I’ve seen it with my own kids: They love juice—whether it comes in the form of a cup, a box or a pouch. Even though we drink very little of it at home, they still seem to score a lot in the outside world—at birthday parties and soccer practices, classroom celebrations and other school events. After a while, it all adds up. I also have found that the more juice that they drink, the less eager they are for water and milk.
While we can’t exactly control what beverages are offered at birthday parties and on playdates, one place that we can try to cut back is at school. But how?!? An advocate for better wellness practices and policies in schools and an active member of our School Bites Facebook page, Casey Hinds has an idea that could help. The mother of two and former Air Force pilot in Lexington, Kentucky, shares her thoughts in this special Guest Post.
It seems like a new study linking sugar sweetened beverage consumption to poor health makes headlines each week. Parents and teachers recognize that serving water better supports the nutrition education children are taught in school. It also fits with the Parent Teacher Associations’ Healthy Lifestyles Initiative and state programs such as 5210 that encourage not drinking sugary beverages.
Local PTAs can promote the welfare of children by adopting a Water First Policy. This means, at PTA events, water is served instead of juice, soda, and other sweet beverages. I found out about this policy through the Lexington Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition and their “Water First: Think Your Drink” campaign. Another PTA in our school district had adopted it and it made such good sense. When I shared the idea with the PTA president at my daughter’s school, she was enthusiastic. She presented it to the PTA for a vote where it passed unanimously. At the first event where we served water instead of sweet drinks like fruit juice, the change was positively received and quickly became part of the school culture.
So consider asking your PTA to take the plunge and adopt a Water First Policy. It’s one of the simplest things you can do to support the health of our students and their families. Visit www.drinkwaterfirst.com for more information.
Many thanks to Casey for this great suggestion! I’ve already brought it up with the new Wellness Committee at my first grader’s school. Fingers crossed that it gains support and the policy is implemented before the end of the school year.
How parents can help reduce their child’s intake of sweet drinks (Drink Water First)
The use and misuse of fruit juice in pediatrics (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Daily Juice Recommendations (AAP’s Healthy Child)
Are juice and soda the go-to drinks at your child’s school? Would you be interested in having a Water First Policy? Please leave any comments down below!