Apple Juice Can Increase the Risk of Obesity and Tooth Decay

November 12, 2012

Apple Juice Can Increase the Risk of Obesity and Tooth Decay

Apple juice has recently got a bad press with stories of trace amounts of arsenic present. Although in fairness, the Food and Drug Administration carried out tests in response to television’s Dr. Mehmet Oz who made the claim that arsenic was present in apple juice. The FDA came to the conclusion that apple juice was safe after carrying out its own tests. But now experts are coming forward and saying that the claims of arsenic are not the problem it’s all of the empty calories and sugars which are the issue. The experts are pointing out that apple juice has many calories and can even have more sugar in it that a can of soda in some instances. It is also said to encourage a ‘sweet tooth’ in children, at the expense of developing a taste for healthier options. And because of the high amount of calories present it increases the risk of becoming overweight or obese. Judith Stern, is a nutrition professor at the University of California, and has consulted for candy manufacturers in addition to Weight Watchers, and she says, “It’s like sugar water. I won’t let my 3-year-old grandson drink apple juice”. Many nutritionists point out that just because a juice has vitamins added does not automatically make the juice healthy. They say that it is still full of sugar and the point about empty calories is still open to debate. Karen Ansel is a registered dietitian in New York and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and she says, “If it wasn’t healthy in the first place, adding vitamins doesn’t make it into a health food, and if it causes weight gain, it’s not a healthy choice”. The American Academy of Pediatrics is equally forthright when it says that apple juice can be part of a healthy diet. However, “Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefit for infants younger than 6 months and no benefits over whole fruit for older kids”.

The Academy now says that over a quarter of all apple juice in the U.S. is consumed by under 12 year olds. Apple juice is only outsold by orange juice.

The Food Institute’s Almanac of Juice Products and the Juice Products Association, is a trade group representing fruit juice producers and it says the average American consumes 267 ounces of apple juice annually. It also adds that apple juice is very common in foodstuffs and various other drinks.

In the United States over 80% of apple juice comes from overseas. China, Argentina Brazil and Chile are the major players according to the Food Institute’s Almanac of Juice Products and the Juice Products Association.

In recent times consumer groups have carried out their own independent tests on various brands of apple juice and this has led them to call for higher standards. The FDA has responded by saying that it will investigate whether its present regulations relating to the presence of arsenic in apple juices are rigorous enough.

This is in response to the fact that some pesticides contain arsenic and can be toxic and carcinogenic if taken over long periods. Pat Faison, technical director for the juice association counters by saying that all fruit juice sold in the U.S. must meet U.S. Government standards. She also explains that, “a lot of the information that people need about fruit juices is on the label”. She is talking about making educated choices about nutritional values in the food and drink we buy.

In response some experts say that apple juice has less natural nutrients than apples and because of the sugar content is liable to damage children’s teeth and promote obesity.

And what do the labels actually tell us? Well some of them are misleading according to critics. They point to the claim that they are cholesterol free. The statement is true; however fruits do not contain cholesterol. And they add ‘no added sugar’ leading some people to believe that they are low in sugar when in fact the juice is high in naturally occurring sugar.

Apple juices have a much higher concentration of sugars present in the form of carbohydrates than other drinks such as milk. And it has minimal amounts of protein and minerals whilst lacking in fiber, which is present in the fruit.

Karen Ansel also points out that if you eat a lot of apples then you will become full before the amount of calories consumed reached a high level. This is not the case with juice, you can easily drink a lot of calories quickly.

Dr. Frank Greer, a University of Wisconsin, Madison, professor and former head of the pediatrics academy’s nutrition committee said simply

“Whole fruits are much better for you”. He points out that in 2005 the U.S. government cut back the amount of fruit juice families could get on its Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. All children over six months then got baby foods and vegetables instead of fruit juices. He said that the government, “really cut back severely on the ability of mothers to get fruit juices” through the program.

Nutrition experts say that if you do take fruit juices then there are some things you can do to help yourself and family. Always choose a juice with added calcium and vitamin D3. Pasteurized juice is the only one to drink, it has been treated to make it safe from germs. Never let your infants drink juice from a bottle over a longer period of time. It leaves the teeth open to decay by being constantly subjected to immersion in sugary liquid.

Only give small amounts of juice to you children and whenever possible get them to clean their teeth afterwards and always try to get the children to eat fruit.

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