African-American, Latino Children Drink More Sugary Fruit Juice

Note: Anisha Patel, MD, MSPH, is a current CTSI K scholarKristine Madsen MD, MPH, is a former K scholar.

By Juliana Bunim via

While there has been a steep decline in kids’ consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in California, African-American and Latino children may be replacing soda with 100 percent fruit juice while their white peers are not, according to a new study from UC San Francisco.

The study was the first to compare trends of sugar-sweetened beverages and 100 percent juice consumption in California.  

“The decrease in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among kids is a promising public health trend,” said Amy Beck, MD, MPH, lead author and pediatrician at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. “But it is concerning that minority children are increasing their consumption of 100 percent fruit juice, which often has just as much sugar as soda.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children age 6 and younger consume a maximum of 4 to 6 ounces of fruit juice per day, and that children ages 7 and older consume no more than 12 ounces per day.

The public health message being sent to parents is that 100 percent fruit juice is OK, according to the researchers, due much in part to juice’s distribution through federal programs.

Fruit juice is available in schools through the National School Lunch Program, which provided low-cost or free lunches to more than 31 million children nationally each school day in 2011. Juice also is distributed to parents through the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, a federal grant program for low-income, nutritionally at-risk women and children up to age 5 and through the Child Care Food Program.

“We want to see kids drinking fewer beverages that give them unnecessary calories – including fruit juice,” said senior author Kristine Madsen, MD, MPH, of the Division of Community Health and Human Development at UC Berkeley. “We don’t want them replacing soda with juice.  It’s better to eat the fruit – not drink the fruit juice.”

The study’s other authors include Anisha Patel, MD, MSPH, a pediatrician at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. The authors have no conflicts of interest or financial disclosures.

The study was funded by a grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institute of Health.