How about some hopeful news about the mainstream medical establishment for a change? Could it be possible that they’re actually willing to take a controversial stance that will result in positive change for the health and welfare of our society?
A recent statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) would indicate that maybe, just maybe, there’s hope.
Now, I’ll be the first to say that the statement doesn’t go far enough. But at least it’s a step in the right direction. And those are few and far between these days.
Here’s the news: The AAP just came out with recommendations for the “appropriate” (their word, not mine) consumption of fruit juice for kids. And that’s important, because fruit juice is nothing but sugar, even though parents seem to think it’s a way of checking the “fruits and vegetables” box in their kids’ diet.
The strongest part of the statement applies to the youngest kids, declaring that fruit juice should be avoided completely in the first year of life.
I’d be happier if it said to avoid fruit juice in general — and to avoid it forever, not just for the first year of life. But advocating against feeding infants pure sugar is a good place to start.
The recommendations say that for the first six months, babies should only drink breast milk, or formula when breastfeeding is not possible.
Now here is where the lines start to get blurred. For infants older than six months, the AAP says physicians should counsel parents to use cups, not bottles, if they need to give their babies fruit juice for medical reasons.
I’m racking my brain trying to think of a valid “medical reason” to give babies juice. But I can’t come up with a single one. Can you?
Here’s another place that I differ with the AAP: They say that infants should then be encouraged to consume mashed or pureed whole fruit until age one. After one year of age, they say parents can give babies fruit juice as part of a meal or snack. Again, why would it ever be necessary or even advisable to give a child sugar water?
Granted, the AAP does make the distinction between “fruit drinks” and “fruit juice,” saying parents should buy only 100 percent fresh or reconstituted fruit juice. I guess that’s an important distinction if you’re going to drink a sugary beverage at all, because a lot of people don’t know the difference. Fruit drinks are cheaper, and food manufacturers use every marketing trick in the book to make you think they’re the same as juice.
But in my opinion, these guidelines need to go a lot further than they do. My position is that there is no reason any child (or any human for that matter) needs fruit. It should be considered a treat — not part of the daily diet.
The fact is that fruit is nothing more than a sugar bomb. A banana has six teaspoons worth of sugar in it. An apple has five. All that adds up… but then we wonder how the average American consumes 33 teaspoons of sugar per day.
It’s not all coming from ice cream and Coke, folks.
Fruit and fruit juice absolutely contribute to the sugar-related illnesses that kids are suffering at alarmingly high rates. Not to mention diarrhea, cavities, obesity, and even undernutrition.
I gave a lecture at a health fair recently in Dallas, and when I mentioned my stance on sugar and fruit, there were audible gasps in the room.
I can only imagine the reaction I’ll get to my new hashtag: #fruitkills.