THE body representing Australia’s fruit juice manufacturers has hit back against claims the drink is a poor health option.
Fruit Juice Australia (FJA) went on the defence of 100 per cent fruit juice last month, following a series of recent media reports questioning the health benefits of the product.
FJA released the results from its own online consumer survey of 1000 Aussie parents, entitled Getting the Guilts: Parents on Kids’ Food Survey.
It found one in four (25 per cent) parents felt guilty about their children drinking fruit juice.
FJA chief executive Geoff Parker said facts that are regularly omitted from the debate are that 100pc fruit juice – whether chilled or shelf – has no added sugar and contains most of the same nutritional qualities, apart from dietary fibre, as the whole fruit.
“The pendulum has swung too far in terms of disapproval by some commentators for what is in reality a healthy, natural option for children. We’re simply asking people to consider the facts about juice,” he said.
The FJA pointed to the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines released in February which suggest a small glass (125ml) of 100pc fruit juice can be a beneficial part of a healthy, balanced diet for all people, including for children.
It also states: “There is insufficient consistent evidence available to form an evidence statement about fruit juices and weight gain.”
“Some studies found no association in children, while two studies in children and one in adults did find an association.”
The industry also commissioned evidence-based research reviews to inform health care professionals and the public about 100pc fruit juice.
The first report, a review of peer-reviewed health and nutrition literature, concludes consumption of fruit juice is associated with better diet quality overall for children and adults.
The research review, Fruit Juice and Diet Quality – Squeezing out the Evidence, shows children who consume fruit juice as part of their diet have significantly higher intakes of four essential nutrients: folate, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium and higher intakes of fibre.
Registered nutritionist Kristen Beck and FJA spokesperson said the research was finally injecting some reality into the juice debate.
“The science confirms fruit juice has an important role to play as part of a healthy diet, as it is a useful source of fluid and can provide vitamin C, folate, potassium and other micronutrients, plus antioxidants,” Ms Beck said.
“No-one is suggesting that children should abandon fresh whole fruit altogether or choose juice as their only source of hydration.
“But what we are saying is that people should be able to give their child a small glass (125ml) of fruit juice without feeling like a bad parent.”