March 27, 2013

Parents should feel good, not guilt about fruit juice

New guidelines and research review deliver dose of reality on juice scare campaigns
The fruit juice industry is fighting back against scaremongering about 100% fruit juice, claiming detractors have squeezed any truth out of debate about juice, leaving parents confused and denying children a legitimate and useful dietary source of a range of essential nutrients.

One in four (25%) parents feels guilty about their children drinking fruit juice, according to the ‘Getting the Guilts: Parents on Kids’ Food Survey’ released today. The online consumer survey of 1000 Aussie parents, commissioned by industry body Fruit Juice Australia (FJA), reveals parents are conflicted about fruit juice.

This is despite the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines released in February reaffirming that a small glass (125ml) of 100% fruit juice can be a beneficial part of a healthy, balanced diet for all people, including for children.

FJA Chief Executive Geoff Parker says facts that are regularly omitted from the debate are that 100% fruit juice – whether chilled or shelf – has no added sugar and contains most of the same nutritional qualities, apart from dietary fibre, as the whole fruit.

“The pendulum has swung too far in terms of disapproval by some commentators for what is in reality a healthy, natural option for children. We’re simply asking people to consider the facts about juice,” he said.

The industry has also commissioned evidence-based research reviews to inform health care professionals and the public about 100% fruit juice. The first report, a review of peer-reviewed health and nutrition literature , concludes consumption of fruit juice is associated with a better diet quality overall for those who consume juice.

The research review, Fruit Juice and Diet Quality – Squeezing out the Evidence , shows children who consume fruit juice as part of their diet have significantly higher intakes of four essential nutrients: folate, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium and higher intakes of fibre.

Registered nutritionist Kristen Beck, FJA spokesperson and mother of three, said: “Finally we’re seeing a dose of reality in the juice debate, with this evidence-based review, plus the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines that concluded that a small glass (125ml) of 100% fruit juice can contribute to a daily fruit serve.

“The science confirms fruit juice has an important role to play as part of a healthy diet, as it is a useful source of fluid and can provide vitamin C, folate, potassium and other micronutrients, plus antioxidants.

“No-one is suggesting that children should abandon fresh whole fruit altogether or choose juice as their only source of hydration. But what we are saying is that people should be able to give their child a small glass (125ml) of fruit juice without feeling like a bad parent.”

Without fruit juice, 99% of Aussie children aged 14-16, 51% of 9-13 year olds, and 61% of 4-8 year olds do not get their recommended serve of fruit each day. We should eat between one and three fruit serves per day, according to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.

“It’s not always possible for kids to get their recommended daily serves of fruit, so parents should be aware that 100% fruit juice can help meet these targets – especially for fussy eaters,” Ms Beck said.

The minimum recommended intake of fruit ranges from 1 serve a day for 2-3 year olds to 1½ serves a day for 4-8 year olds, and at least 2 serves a day for older children, adolescents and adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women.

In the ‘Getting the Guilts: Parents on Kids’ Food Survey’1 over half (56%) of all parents said their children drank fruit juice at least a few times a week. Of those parents who felt guilty about their children drinking juice, 73% attributed this guilt to being unsure whether it was the healthiest choice.

“Parents can feel reassured that 100% fruit juice is a healthy choice for families,” Ms Beck said.

“Many parents in the survey said they were conscious of portion sizes and like everything, moderation is vital. Around a third of parents surveyed said they always read the food labels and I encourage more parents to do so.

“Check the label to ensure you’re buying a good quality, 100% fruit juice. Be mindful of portion sizes and combine with a healthy, balanced diet that includes all core food groups – such as fresh fruit and veggies and a combination of lean meats, fish, dairy and carbohydrate-rich foods, mainly wholegrains.”

Refer to separate fact sheets on Getting the Guilts: Parents on Kids’ Food Survey key findings and literature review Fruit Juice and Diet Quality – Squeezing out the Evidence, summary of key findings.

For more information or interviews:
Angela Jackson, Cox Inall Communications, 02 8204 3820

[1] The Leading Edge for Fruit Juice Australia (2013) Key Findings – Getting the Guilts: Parents on Kids’ Food Survey

[1] National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Australian Dietary Guidelines

[1] A review of peer-reviewed health and nutrition literature, commissioned by Fruit Juice Australia (2013): Fruit Juice and Diet Quality – Squeezing out the Evidence.

[1] Landon, S., (2011) Fruit juice in the diet of Australian children, Food Australia