School Lunches: Squeeze Out the Juice

School Lunches: Squeeze Out the JuiceSending the kids back to school means it’s time to start packing those lunch boxes! And when you do, keep in mind that what your children drink can affect their oral health just as much as what they eat.

The scientific evidence is overwhelming that sugar is the most important dietary factor in causing tooth decay, and soft drinks are the largest source of sugar in many kids’ diets. But they’re not the only culprits: Even 100% fruit juices with no added sugar can promote tooth decay because of the sugar they naturally contain.

That’s one of the reasons why the American Academy of Pediatrics recently came out with new recommendations for children’s juice consumption, based on the latest research. Here are the new guidelines by age:

  • Kids ages 7-18 should have no more than 8 ounces (1 cup) of juice per day.
  • Children ages 4-6 should have no more than 6 ounces of juice per day.
  • Toddlers ages 1-3 should be limited to 4 ounces of juice per day.
  • Babies under age 1, and children of any age with abnormal weight gain, should have no juice at all.

Again, these guidelines apply to 100 percent natural juice with no added sugar.

So what drink should you pack in your child’s lunchbox? Water is the most tooth-friendly beverage of all. Low-fat or non-fat milk are also good choices for school-aged kids.

If you have any questions about nutrition and oral health, be sure to ask your dentist. And have a happy, healthy school year.