Among children in families with low incomes, is consumption of 100% fruit juice consistent with dietary recommendations? The answer is found in new analyses of data collected by Westat: In general, kids are drinking too much 100% fruit juice when they are very young, and children from historically underrepresented racial-ethnic groups may be at greater risk of overconsumption.
Using WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2 (WIC ITFPS-2) data, Westat researchers found that average consumption of 100% fruit juice on a given day was 6.1 fluid ounces at age 2 for children in families with a history of participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). At age 3, it was 6.6 fluid ounces on a given day. Among children who drank 100% fruit juices at these ages, the juice contributed 60 percent or more to their total fruit intake, notably more than the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommend. There were significant differences in the amount of juice consumed by 2-year-olds in various racial-ethnic groups, suggesting that the new DGA recommendations for children under 2 may differentially impact diet-quality assessment of children, and the risks of overconsuming juice may be unequal across racial-ethnic groups in the WIC community.
A Westat issue brief by Christine Borger, PhD, a senior economist and PI of WIC ITFPS-2—Young Children’s Consumption of 100% Fruit Juice by Racial-Ethnic Characteristics of Their Mothers (PDF)—discusses the findings in light of dietary guidance and proposed new WIC food packages. According to Borger, “For the nutrition security of all young children, we need to understand the causes of the racial-ethnic differences identified: Do they reflect differential access to fresh fruits and vegetables, differential rates of participation in programs in the early years of life, or other social determinants of health? More research is needed.”