Background: In a referral population of young children, excessive fruit juice consumption has been reported to be a contributing factor in nonorganic failure to thrive.
Objective: To evaluate, in a population-based sample of healthy children, fruit juice consumption and its effects on growth parameters during early childhood.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: General primary care health center in upstate New York.
Participants: One hundred sixteen 2-year-old children and one hundred seven 5-year-old children, who were scheduled for a nonacute visit, and their primary care taker/parent were recruited over a 2-year period.
Measurements: For 168 children (ninety-four 2-year-old children and seventy-four 5-year-old children), mean dietary intake was calculated from 7 days of written dietary records, entered, and analyzed using the Minnesota Nutrition Data System. Height was measured using a Harpenden Stadiometer. Weight was measured using a standard balance beam scale.
Results: The 2-year-old and 5-year-old children consumed, on average, 5.9 and 5.0 fl oz/day of fruit juice and 9.8 and 11.0 fl oz/day of milk, respectively. Nineteen children (11%) consumed > or = 12 fl oz/day of juice. Forty-two percent of children consuming > or = 12 fl oz/day of juice had short stature (height less than 20th sex-specific percentile for age) vs 14% of children drinking less than 12 fl oz/day of juice. Obesity was more common among children drinking > or = 12 fl oz/day of juice compared with those drinking less juice: 53% vs 32% had a body mass index > or = 75th age- and sex-specific percentile; 32% vs 9% had a body mass index > or = 90th age- and sex-specific percentile; and 32% vs 5% had a ponderal index > or = 90th age-specific percentile. After adjustment for maternal height, child age, child sex, and child age-sex interaction, children consuming > or = 12 fl oz/day of juice, compared with those drinking less than 12 fl oz/day of juice, were shorter (86.5 vs 89.3 cm and 106.5 vs 111.2 cm for the 2-year-old and 5-year-old children, respectively) and more overweight (body mass index = 17.2 vs 16.3 kg/m2 and ponderal index = 18.4 vs 16.8 kg/m3).
Conclusions: Consumption of > or = 12 fl oz/day of fruit juice by young children was associated with short stature and with obesity. Parents and care takers should limit young children's consumption of fruit juice to less than 12 fl oz/day.