A group of paediatricians has warned parents not to give children consummate amounts of fruit juice in a bid to boost their vitamin and mineral intake. Those parents who give juice to children younger than six months risk undermining their health in the long run, according to the American Academy of Paediatrics' (AAP) committee of nutrition.

In the May issue of journal Paediatrics (2001; 107: pp1210-1213), committee members revealed: "Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefit for infants younger than 6 months." For young children, too much fruit juice can mean tooth decay, diarrhoea and stomach pain. In the most severe cases it can cause malnutrition in infants.

Nutritionists also believe that the trend for increasing consumption of fruit juice is contributing to an increase in child obesity. Committee member Dr William J. Cochran argued: "About 20% of kids in the US are overweight because they consume excess calories from beverages."

According to the report, children are the largest consumers of juice in the country, and by the age of one, 90% of infants in the US are drinking juice.

The committee recommends that parents limit juice intake to 4-6 ounces for 1- to 6-year-olds and 8-12 ounces for older children of 7- to 18-years. Parents should also avoid giving infants juice from "sippy cups" or at bedtime, when the acids can attack the teeth.