Don’t let the juice loose!

The increasing rates of childhood obesity are alarming. Studies have shown that what children drink can play an important role in maintaining children’s health and, ultimately, children’s weight (Cleveland Clinic, 2019). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), warns that excessive daily sugar intake may lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Therefore, the AAP recommends aiming for less than 25 grams (about 6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day for children 2 years of age and older.

Many parents and caregivers offer children fruit juices and fruit drinks and may think they are giving their children needed vitamins or nutrients, but this may not always be the case. Nutrition facts can be found on the back of the juice packaging (e.g., bottle, box), and parents/caregivers should look carefully at the ingredients and at the amount of sugar per serving in the drink.

Here’s a closer look at how much sugar is in popular children’s drinks. Each teaspoon of sugar is equal to 4 grams (remember, aim for less than 25 grams of added sugar per day) (Penn State Extension, n.d.):

Drink Serving Size Amount of sugar
Soda 8-ounce cup 26 grams (less than 1 can) = 6.5 tsp.
Fruit punch juice drink 8-ounce cup 30 grams = 7.5 tsp.
Fruit punch cocktail 8-ounce cup 34 grams = 8.5 tsp.
100% juice (no sugar added) 8-ounce cup 26 grams = 6.5 tsp.

Best practices for beverage consumption according to the AAP (2017) are as follows:

  • Water: Available from household water faucets or in bottles or cans, and often a child can access water independently
  • Fruit juice: Offer only products that are 100% juice; limit to no more than 4-6 ounces per day per child and
    encourage parents to support this limit (keep juice from getting on the loose!)
  • Sugary drinks: Never offer these drinks (includes fruit drinks, sports drinks, sweet tea, and soda)
  • Milk: Serve only 1% or non-fat (skim) milk to children 2 years and older (unless otherwise directed by the child’s health provider)

According to the AAP (2017), even 100% fruit juice, while there is no added sugar, is simply sugar from the whole fruit, and the juice lacks the fiber and some nutrients that are found in the whole fruit. Research suggests that drinking juice may lead children to develop a taste for sweet things, which could be detrimental to children’s overall and continued health. In addition, the AAP recommends that fruit juice not be given to infants under 12 months of age since it offers no nutritional benefit to babies in this age group. After 12 months of age, infants may have limited amounts (see recommendations below) of 100% fruit juice daily (APA, 2017). Remember, just because a drink claims to be 100% fruit juice doesn’t mean it’s a healthy option for children (Eichberger, 2018).

Key tips regarding fruit juice follow:

  • Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits over whole fruit. Whole fruits also provide fiberand other nutrients. Infants should not be given fruit juice at bedtime or as a treatment of dehydration or management of diarrhea.
  • For children ages 1 to 3 years old:Limit fruit juice consumption to no more than 4 ounces each day.
  • For children ages 4 to 6 years of age:Limit fruit juice consumption to 4 to 6 ounces each day.

Additional resources:

Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State. (2017, July 11). 5210 Make your own sugar bottle display.

Penn State Extension. (n.d.). The best drinks for kids. Better Kid Care.


American Academy of Pediatrics. (2017). Fruit juice and your child’s diet. Healthy Children.

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2017). Where we stand: fruit juice. Healthy Children.

Cleveland Clinic. (2019). Parents: Regular milk and water is best for kids. Health Essentials.

Eichberger, S. (2018, August 27). Is fruit juice healthy for kids? Michigan State University Extension Food and Health.

Penn State Extension. (n.d). The best drinks for kids. Better Kid Care.

8 ways to drink more water

8 ways to drink more water

Use these 8 tips to add flavor to your water!

  1. Get used to drinking more water by gradually increasing how much you drink each day.
  2. Play around with herbs and spices to give your flavored water something extra, like cinnamon sticks or mint leaves.
  3. If your fresh fruit is starting to get too ripe, freeze it for later use.
  4. Keep two pitchers in your refrigerator, so that as you use up one flavor, there’s another one to take its place.
  5. Gently mash or muddle fruits to get their juices to distribute throughout the water.
  6. Consider experimenting with decaffeinated black, green, white, rooibos, and herbal teas until you find a flavor that makes water more enjoyable.
  7. Use frozen fruit instead of ice cubes in hot weather.
  8. If you crave the carbonation in soda, consider purchasing carbonated water or seltzer water with no added sweeteners.

How to find motivation to be physically active

It can be hard to get up early to squeeze in a workout before the sun comes up or find time at the end of a long work day. Here are some ways to stay motivated to be active!

  1. Find activities you enjoy doing. Perhaps you like the social aspect of attending fitness classes, or you prefer to decompress at the end of the day by running or using a cardio machine. Group sports may or may not get you excited, so try things out to see what works for you!
  2. Make it easy to exercise. If you prefer to exercise in the morning, keep your gym clothes and shoes right next to your bed. If you prefer to work out in the evening, pack your gym clothes at the same time you pack your lunch in the morning. Keep spares of items you frequently forget (socks, headphones, etc.) in your car.
  3. Break up your day with activity. Use small blocks of time to be active and get your heart rate up! Waiting for a meal to cook is a great time to get some jumping jacks in. Park away from a building entrance, take the stairs, or pick up the pace cleaning your house to get some extra movement while doing something you need to do!
  4. Make fitness a family affair. Some families have a tradition of going on a group walk during holiday events. You can also practice drills for sports your children are playing in their physical education classes to build their confidence and model healthy behaviors.
  5. Keep a log. Just like people do for food tracking, keeping a log of your physical activity can show you all that you’ve accomplished and highlight areas that can be hindering your fitness goals.