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June 05, 2001

Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions. To help children maintain healthy weight, parents may be keeping sight of what's on their kids' plate, but they often overlook what's filling their glasses.

One in four children in this country is overweight or is at risk for becoming overweight. Soda consumption has been linked to poor health and obesity in children. But, drinking too much fruit juice may also contribute to the rising rates of overweight children, according to a new policy statement released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Children are the single largest group of juice consumers nationwide. The AAP recommends that fruit juice should be limited to 4-6 ounces (or half a glass) per day for children ages 1 to 6 years and 8-12 ounces (or one glass) per day for kids ages 7-18 years.

"We're concerned about the excessive amounts of fruit juice that children are drinking today," said co-author of the policy statement Susan S. Baker, M.D., Ph.D., chairperson of AAP's Committee on Nutrition. "Many parents don't realize that many fruit juices contain a lot of sugar and calories with relatively few nutrients in return. As a result, kids who drink juice all day long are depriving themselves of essential nutrients their growing bodies need."
Another concern with "over-juicing" is that kids might be skipping nutrient-rich beverages like milk. "Children are not getting enough calcium in their diets because they're skipping out on milk," Baker said. "Instead they're drinking beverages that contain little or no calcium-beverages such as sodas, fruit drinks, and sports drinks. If children choose milk, they would get the nutrients, especially the calcium they need for healthy bones."

The AAP released a policy statement earlier this year encouraging pediatricians to recommend calcium-rich foods, like milk, for children's daily diets to help build bone mass and help prevent rickets, a vitamin D deficiency disease. Milk is one of the most easily accessible sources of vitamin D, a rare dietary nutrient that helps bones absorb calcium. Many parents have the misperception that calcium-fortified juice is a good replacement for milk, but they lack the full nutrient powerhouse that milk provides- nine essential nutrients, including protein and vitamin D.

New Hispanic Milk Ad Gets the Word out to Moms that Milk Packs a Powerful Nutritious Punch

The growing Latino community will be alerted to milk's important nutritional message with the dairy industry's first national Hispanic advertising campaign, which premiered this month on both Telemundo and Univision, the country's two national Spanish-language broadcast networks.

The two television spots, highlight the nutrition-packed quality of milk, which includes calcium as well as 8 other essential nutrients: vitamins A, B-12 and D, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin and protein for muscle growth.
"We know that milk is a key component of the Hispanic diet", said Kurt Graetzer, CEO of the Milk Processor Education Program. "Yet, most Hispanics don't know that milk is not only rich in calcium but also 8 other essential nutrients, making it the ideal beverage for kids, teens and people of all ages".

To reach the hearts and minds of this growing population, the television ads feature happy, active kids in a variety of situations. The emphasis on physical activity helps convey to anxious moms that three glasses of milk a day help replenish nutrients their active kids lose.

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