You CAN Pack a Juice Box in Your Child's Baon (Yes, There's a But)
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  • If you're buying juice on your next grocery run, look for 100 percent fruit juice on the label and avoid juices that are simply fruit-flavored. Experts are saying parents may not realize that juice is not as healthy as most believe it to be. The culprit? Sugar. A serving of juice may contain just as much sugar as a can of soda.  

    “Parents tend to associate juice with healthfulness, are unaware of its relationship to weight gain and are reluctant to restrict it in their child’s diet,” reads an article in The New York Times written by a group of professors of pediatrics. “In fact, one 12-ounce glass of orange juice contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, which is roughly what’s in a can of Coke.”

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    Fruit juice, especially those in handy individual servings, are okay to pack once in a while in your child’s lunchbox but, just like every other sugary drink, moderation is key. If you do give your child juice, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 100 percent fruit juice and it ideally follows these maximum daily consumption guidelines:

    Note that a typical-sized juice box or tetra pack sold in the Philippines contains 250 mL or 8.45 ounces

    • For children ages 1 to 3 years old, no more than 4 ounces (118 mL) of 100 percent fruit juice a day
    • For children ages 4 to 6 years old, no more than 4 to 6 ounces (177 mL) of 100 percent juice a day
    • For children ages 7 to 18 years old, no more than 8 ounces (237 mL) of 100 percent fruit juice a day 

    Children below 1-year-old should not be given juice, as per advice from the AAP. “The policy clarifies that there is virtually no role for juice during the first year of life and that expensive juice products designed specifically for infants are not of value,” said Dr. Steven A. Abrams, co-author of the guidelines and chair of the AAP Committee on Nutrition

    Juice, particularly 100 percent fruit juice, can contain nutrients. But, it can’t and shouldn't be treated as a substitute for real fruit. “Juice may provide some vitamins — such as vitamin C in orange juice and calcium and vitamin D in some fortified juice products — but lacks the fiber and protein critical for the growth of children,” said Dr. Abrams.

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    Don’t make it a habit to have sweet drinks, like juice or soda, with every family meal. Water and milk are still the best and primary drinks for kids, says Dr. Abrams.

    Children ages 3 to 5 need to drink five or more glasses of water and one glass of milk per day, as per food portion guidelines from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology.

    If you’re giving the kids fruit juice for the vitamins, a better option will always be to go for whole fruit instead. “If your children are drinking a lot of fruit juice or sugar-free drinks instead of eating a healthy snack of whole fruit,” says Dr. Vincent Iannelli in an article for VeryWell, “what they are not getting may be more of a problem than what they are getting.” 

    So, on your next grocery run, it may be wise to grab a few produce bags at the fruit and vegetable section and get less than you typically would at the sugary drinks aisle.

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