The results are in: apples and bananas are kids’ favorite fruits. A new study in today’s issue of the journal Pediatrics looked at fruit consumption in more than 3,000 children ages 2 to 19. Researchers found that American children are eating about 1.25 cups of fruit per day. This is great news considering the daily recommendation is one to two cups of fruit per day. Additionally, 53 percent of fruit intake amongst kids in the U.S. comes from whole fruit, the healthiest, most nutritious form.
Unfortunately, the study revealed some disappointing information as well. A third of the fruit consumed by American children ages 6 to 11 is in juice form and, in children under the age of 5, that number jumps to 40.9 percent. Dr. Terrill Bravender, director of adolescent medicine at Duke University Medical Center, told CBS News that too much juice can curb the appetite for nutritionally superior foods in very young children. In older children, he says, it often supplements other foods, which can add hundreds of excess calories. Even 100 percent fruit juice is no match for whole fruit in terms of nutrients.
So how can you ensure your child is consuming enough, and the right kinds, of fruit? Nutritionists suggest that you teach them from a young age that water satisfies thirst and whole foods satisfy hunger. This will keep them from reaching for a sugary fruit cocktail every time he or she is thirsty. Also encourage your child to eat fruit in its whole form, and steer clear of mixed fruit cups that are often preserved in unhealthy syrups. Finally, skip the kid’s menu when dining out, as the choices offered often skimp on fruits and vegetable. These simple steps will help to familiarize your child with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, a factor proven to set kids up for success later in life.
The accompanying slideshow is provided by fellow Daily Meal editorial staff member Angela Carlos.