Fruit Juice And Other Sweet Drinks May Be Link To Childhood Obesity

by Stuart Burson

A new study indicates fruit juices and other sweet drinks, often a big part of many kids' diets, could raise the risk of obesity in young children who are already on their way to becoming overweight.

"People don't' realize that fruit drinks are as rich in calories as any other sweet drink," says Dr. Andrew Fercowicz, a family practitioner in Lufkin.

In Dr. Fercowicz's practice, about 70 percent of the kids he sees are overweight. Obesity can even start in a child three to four months old.

Some preschools around the country have already started cutting back or even eliminating juices and other sweet drinks from their kids' diets. We spoke with one East Texas daycare. For them, juice is a key to meeting state nutritional guidelines.

"At a facility such as ours, we do not serve contained lunches here, so there are certain guidelines that have to be met by the state for their nutrition everyday. Since we only serve snacks here, and the parents send their lunches, we have to make sure we're covered by meeting the requirements, and the greatest way to do that is from the juice," says Anthony Holder with Kovenant Kids Daycare.

Fruit juice can still be a convenient, tasty way to supply our children with good nutrition. The key to avoiding unnecessary weight gain is not giving them juice too often.

Nutritionists say serving your child whole fruit is a better way to go than just juice. Whole fruit contains fiber. That's more filling than low-fiber juices and could help lead to less overeating.