The Playbook For The Modern Man

Scientists Now Reckon Orange Juice Is A Gateway Drug

So we should stick to rum and coke?

If coffee’s a narcotic then we’d hate to know how scientists are currently categorising our favourite breakfast staple…

We all know a can of coke is not a smart breakfast. But did you know one 12-ounce glass of orange juice contains the same amount of sugar? While this morning’s news has focussed around a US delegate threatening the world health community over breastfeeding, it turns out American scientists are only just getting started. That’s right: juice is now a gateway drug.

Americans drink a lot of juice. And this habit starts from an early age. According to the Times, “More than half of preschool-age children (ages 2 to 5) drink juice regularly, a proportion that, unlike for sodas, has not budged in recent decades.”

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“These children consume on average 10 ounces per day, more than twice the amount recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

Although many people associate juice with vitamin C and its fruity origins, many are unaware how quickly it can contribute to weight gain. And when you see “100 percent” fruit juice, sold in cute biodegradable bottles—a natural source of vitamins and calcium—it seems counter-intuitive to say that it’s unhealthy.

But juice contains far more concentrated sugar and calories than whole fruit. It also has less fiber, which makes you feel full (and stop eating). Unlike whole fruit, because juice can be consumed quickly, it’s more likely to get you consuming too many carbs. For example, according to the NYT, “Research has found that adults who drank apple juice before a meal felt hungrier and ate more calories than those who started with an apple instead.”

“While eating certain fruits like apples and grapes is associated with a reduced risk of diabetes, drinking fruit juice is associated with the opposite” (NYT).

For this reason scientists have coined the term, “gateway beverage,” articulating their concern over the fact that 1-year-olds who drink more juice also tend to drink more sugary beverages, like soda. This excessive consumption of juice has been linked to an increased risk of weight gain, growing problems and cavities.

Such is the problem, as the Times points out, researchers have found that children in governmental programs (such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) designed to provide healthy food, but which offer juice to kids, are more likely to exceed the recommended daily fruit juice limit than those who are similarly poor but not enrolled.

RELATED: Science Has Found A Way To Avoid The Dreaded Holiday Weight Gain

  • Diane Welland

    As a registered dietitian working with the Juice Products Association, I would like to correct some misinformation. In the New York Times op-ed, Drs. Cheng, Fiechtner and Carroll ignore the majority of nutrition science supporting 100% juice in a healthy diet. One hundred percent fruit juice is classified within the fruit group by the USDA because it is nutritionally similar to whole fruit, containing the same essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, magnesium and potassium, and no added sugars. A systematic review published in the March 2018 issue of Advances in Nutrition reaffirms that there is no conclusive evidence linking 100% fruit juice to adverse health conditions, including obesity. In fact, research shows that people who drink 100% juice have higher intakes of whole fruit and a better overall diet quality compared with non-drinkers. With more than 75 percent of Americans not eating the recommended amounts of fruit, it is important to encourage Americans to consume more fruits in all forms – juice included. For more information, please visit juicecentral.org.

  • Diane Welland

    As a registered dietitian working with the Juice Products Association, I would like to correct some misinformation. In the New York Times op-ed, Drs. Cheng, Fiechtner and Carroll ignore the majority of nutrition science supporting 100% juice in a healthy diet. One hundred percent fruit juice is classified within the fruit group by the USDA because it is nutritionally similar to whole fruit, containing the same essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, magnesium and potassium, and no added sugars. A systematic review published in the March 2018 issue of Advances in Nutrition reaffirms that there is no conclusive evidence linking 100% fruit juice to adverse health conditions, including obesity. In fact, research shows that people who drink 100% juice have higher intakes of whole fruit and a better overall diet quality compared with non-drinkers. With more than 75 percent of Americans not eating the recommended amounts of fruit, it is important to encourage Americans to consume more fruits in all forms – juice included. For more information, please visit juicecentral.org.

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