Introducing the latest villian in the war on childhood obesity: Fruit Juice.
That's right - fruit juice! And its big reveal has been a snowball effect in the making, with scientific studies colliding against a new HBO documentary "Weight of The Nation", the growing consensus among experts and scientists alike is this: Fruit juice just isn't all it's
cracked squeezed up to be.
And if this is jaw-dropping news to you, then it's time we played a little catch-up.
For as long as we've had nutritional guidelines in this country, the daily intake of fruits and vegetables have been at the top of the list for optimal nutrition. And despite an ongoing 25 year campaign encouraging the public to increase their daily intake, we are grossly - and collectively - noncompliant.
Now putting vegetables aside for just a minute, what do you suppose it is about fruit that makes it such a chore for us to eat? Is it the nuisance of finding a faucet to wash an apple? The laborious task of peeling an orange? Or maybe we just can't muster up the energy for all that chewing.
The answer is: All the above! Could it be that we're just too lazy to eat fruit? I'll go out on a limb and say ... yes! And because I always love to relate our modern-day eating habits with those of our prehistoric caveman cousins' - I'll tell you why this is!
We actually are lazy. And I don't mean "lazy" in the same context that our parents or teachers may have meant it. I mean, literally, we are purposely hard-wired to conserve our energy. Despite evolving over hundreds of thousands of years into a species that can launch a man into space, or send an email through space - and around the world in just seconds, we are still hard-wired for surviving in a feast or famine environment. Contrary to the images that cavemen conjure up: chasing woolly mammoths, building fire and keeping the cave tidy, their instincts were to lay low and save their energy. This is probably why we evolved our hedonic incentive for food - to get them up off their rawhides and back out in search of sugar and calories.
And thanks to this energy conserving mechanism that we soo don't need anymore, when the path of least resistance presents itself - we're on it! We have a pretty good track record ...
Why walk when we can ride?
Why read when we can watch?
Why turn when we can click?
And why peel and chew fruit when you can just drink it? Well, that's exactly what the American Beverage Association thinks, too. And as the sales of soda and soft drinks began to plummet as a result of a nationwide effort to reduce childhood obesity, food marketers went to work on the new darling of the beverage industry: fruit juice.
Today, fruit juice is promoted on a health platform, and encouraged as an important part of any diet leading towards "good health". It's a path of least resistance for us parents, whose best intentions are often trumped by a battle. And for many of us, all the convincing we need is right there on the label: "A serving of fruit in just 4 oz!", "Made with real fruit!" "Excellent Source of Vitamin C!"
But the reality is, it comes down to sugar. And even 100% fruit juices can contain as much sugar as soda. And despite the "added" benefits of the vitamins and minerals, it's the loss of fiber that puts fruit juice on the same level as soft drinks - even despite the added vitamins and minerals. And that's because it's missing it's greatest ingredient: naturally occurring fiber.
Without fiber to slow it down, sugar speeds right through digestion and into our bloodstream. And it's the rate and "rush" of sugar that interferes with metabolism, and interrupts the hormonal "cues" that signal us to stop eating. For our children, whether it's a Sprite or a box of 100% fruit juice, frequent consumption can lead to weight gain, obesity, appetite regulation disorders, cavities, mood swings, and more.
So should you eliminate 100% fruit juice from your child's diet? I'll be generous and comply with the American Academy of Pediatric's recommendation which is to limit juice to 4-6 oz/day. I would also recommend trying to get our kids to chew their fruit, not drink it. . And last but not least, beware of the juice makers, who will stop at nothing to tell you what you want to hear so you will buy their product. Introducing, fruit juice with "fiber":