WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Fruit contains sugar in the form of fructose, which leads to some confusion among parents regarding 100% juice’s status as a healthy beverage option for young children. Research shows that children who drink 100% fruit juice do not have more cavities than those who do not.*
WHAT WE KNOW
Since the 1990s, research has demonstrated that children in the United States are drinking more beverages with added sugars, such as sodas, juice drinks, and other sugary beverages instead of milk or water. Meanwhile, parents are serving their children 100% fruit juice as a nutritious alternative. It has raised the question: does 100% fruit juice increase the chances of a child developing cavities?
The American Academic of Pediatric Dentistry defines cavities in children, or early childhood caries (ECC), as “the presence of 1 or more decayed (noncavitated or cavitated legions), missing (due to caries), or filled tooth surfaces in any primary tooth in a child under the age of six.” While the national percentage of preschool children experiencing cavities is still under 50%, changes in beverage consumption habits warrants an evaluation of popular beverage items.
WHAT THE RESEARCH SHOWS
In a nationally representative study of nearly 2,300 preschool children between the ages of 2-5 years, researchers explored the relationship between regular consumption of 100% fruit juice and the presence of cavities.* Children in this particular study had 1.17 cavities on average. All children were required to undergo a dental examination and their parents were asked questions about their child’s dietary intake in a 24-hour dietary recall. The dietary recall included questions specifically about how much and how often 100% fruit juice was served to their children.
Over 50% of children consumed 100% fruit juice in the 24-hour period. The study found that children who were regularly given 100% fruit juice did not have a higher number of cavities. The study did demonstrate that with age, the number of children with cavities increased. For example, 12% of 2-year-olds had cavities, compared to nearly 40% of 5-year-olds (39.5%).
This specific study demonstrated that the association between 100% fruit juice consumption and cavities is insignificant in children. Age was a much stronger indicator in the likelihood of a child having cavities, shedding light on older preschool children’s need of dental hygiene assistance to maintain optimal oral health. The consumption of 100% juice can be 4 to 6 ounces for children 1 to 6 years of age for its overall health benefit (that is, nutritional value) rather than its ability to prevent cavities.
Parents can feel confident in serving 100% fruit juice to their children as part of a balanced, nutritious diet. To ensure the highest quality beverage for your child, check the ingredients label be sure that there are no additional added sugars – just 100% juice!
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