Children who drink fruit juice with breakfast 50% more likely to be overweight, finds study

Sarah Young
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Children who drink fruit juice with breakfast are more likely to become overweight or obese, new research suggests.

Juices, which were once considered a healthy option, have increasingly come under fire for their sugar content and the impact this can have on children’s health.

Now, scientists are advising parents to not assume that all juices are healthy and instead replace them with a piece of fruit for their children’s breakfast.

This comes after a study, led by the Medical University of Vienna, revealed that children who had orange or apple juice with their breakfast were 50 per cent more likely to be overweight, while those who drank water saw their obesity risk fall by 40 per cent.

Similarly, it also suggests that skipping breakfast is linked to weight gain as it makes children more likely to snack during the day.

The study, published at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna, questioned 652 children aged 13 on their breakfast habits and, while most types of food had no clear relationship with weight, those who drank fruit juice more than three times a week were 50 per cent more likely to be overweight or obese.

It also found that those who did eat breakfast were three pounds lighter on average than those who skipped it.

Despite the findings, experts say the results shouldn’t scare parents into thinking they need to cut fruit juice from their children’s diet altogether.

"We are keen to promote the benefits of fruit juice because it does have vitamins and minerals, and if the bits haven’t been removed there’s more fibre in there,” Aisling Pigott, British Dietetic Association (BDA) spokesperson and paediatric dietitian told HuffPost UK.

“But what we do know is that it’s very easy to drink large volumes of fruit juice, which provides no additional benefits to a very small amount.”

Instead, Pigott advises that parents should water down fruit juice. She says diluting at a ratio of one part fruit juice and four parts water is best for youngsters while older children can have half and half.