Does Fruit Juice Make Kids Short and Fat?

Barbara Dennison, Helen L. Rockwell, and Sharon L. Baker
Pediatrics 1997;99(1):15-22

New research claims kids who drink a lot of fruit juice are more likely to be short and fat.

Dennison et al. weighed and measured 94 2-year olds and 74 5-year olds, and assessed the children's "mean dietary intake" based on 7 days of dietary records.

They reported kids who drank more than 12 ounces of juice per day were twice as likely to be short (i.e., height less than 20th sex-specific percentile for age). Kids who drank more than 12 ounces of juice per day were about 60 percent more likely to be fat (i.e., body mass index greater than 75th sex-specific percentile for age).

Then in an attempt to turn this lemon of a study into lemonade, Dennison et al. made the following recommendation:

Parents and caretakers should limit young children's consumption of fruit juice to less than 12 fl oz/day.

Now, how can anyone make such a recommendation based on a study of only 168 children? It's a pretty SMALL sample, don't you think? Worse, only 19 kids in this sample actually drank more than 12 ounces of fruit juice per day.

How about the fact that 97 percent of the children were white and from low- to middle-class families? Not a very representative sample of kids for such a SWEEPING recommendation.

And why would fruit juice make kids short? Can't answer that one? Well neither could Dennison et al.!

Finally, even if 12 ounces of fruit juice per day could somehow make kids obese, how can Dennison et al. attribute the observed obesity to fruit juice based on only a week's worth of dietary information? How representative was the dietary information they collected? What about other factors that contribute to obesity, such as lack of physical activity?

Small sample, biased sample, very limited dietary information, missing information, no biological plausibility, BUT A VERY BIG CONCLUSION!

I only have one question for Dennison et al.:

How 'bout a nice Hawaiian Punch!

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