Washington, May 22 Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefit to children under the age of one and may contribute to excessive weight gain, say experts who recommend not including juices in the diet of infants.
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a new policy marking the first change in recommendations on fruit juice since 2001.
Over past years, the body had advised against offering fruit juice to children under the age of six months, but has expanded that time frame to include the entire first year of life.
The revision accounts for the rising rates of obesity and concerns about dental health based on data accumulated over recent years, researchers said.
"Parents may perceive fruit juice as healthy, but it is not a good substitute for fresh fruit and just packs in more sugar and calories," said Melvin B Heyman, co-author of the new research published in the journal Pediatrics.
"Small amounts in moderation are fine for older kids, but are absolutely unnecessary for children under 1," said Heyman.
The new recommendations state that 100 per cent fresh or reconstituted fruit juice can be a healthy part of the diet of children older than one year when consumed as part of a well- balanced diet.
Consumption, however, should be limited depending on a child's age.
Researchers recommend that intake of juice should be limited to, at most, four ounces daily for toddlers age 1-3.
For children aged four to six, fruit juice should be restricted to 4 to 6 ounces daily and for those aged 7-18, juice intake should be limited to 1 cup per day.
Toddlers should not be given juice from bottles or easily transportable "sippy cups" that allow them to consume juice easily throughout the day.
The excessive exposure of the teeth to carbohydrates can lead to tooth decay, as well. Toddlers should also not be given juice at bedtime, researchers recommend.
Children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits and be educated about the benefits of the fruit as compared with juice, which lacks dietary fibre and may contribute to excessive weight gain, they said.
Human milk or infant formula is sufficient for infants, and low-fat/nonfat milk and water are sufficient for older children.
Consumption of unpasteurised juice products should be strongly discouraged for children of all ages. In addition, fruit juice is not appropriate in the treatment of dehydration or management of diarrhoea.
"We know that excessive fruit juice can lead to excessive weight gain and tooth decay," said co-author Steven A Abrams.