Early childhood is a key time to establish eating patterns, but with so many options, it can be confusing to know which drinks are healthy and which to avoid. Fortunately, a new consensus report released by leading health authorities provides clear and simple recommendations that make beverage selection easier for parents and caregivers.
In September, leading health authorities — including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the American Heart Association — released a consensus report stating water and milk are the best beverages for young children ages 1 to 5, reaffirming dairy’s role in children’s health and development.
The report acknowledged that healthy beverage patterns in early childhood are important to help prevent future diet-related chronic diseases, as well as support optimal physical and cognitive growth and development and overall health. The four national health and wellness organizations stated that milk is important in children’s diets as it provides key nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin D, B vitamins, and protein.
Additionally, the report recommends limiting 100 percent fruit and fruit-vegetable blended juices, encouraging fruit consumption instead when possible. The report continues by explicitly listing beverages not recommended for young children due to a lack of unique nutritional value or in an effort to reduce the consumption of added sugar in formative years. The full guidelines and accompanying technical report can be found at healthydrinkshealthykids.org.
This report will likely be referenced by key public health stakeholders in policy development and advocacy, especially since it coincides with the development of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. For the first time, the guidelines will provide recommendations for infants and toddlers from birth to 24 months.
For 100 years, Dairy Council of California has championed children’s health, empowering educators, health professionals, and community leaders to elevate the health of children and families through the pursuit of lifelong, healthy eating habits. The recent consensus recommendations add even more credibility to the important role of milk in children’s health. Dairy farm families and milk processors can amplify the report by sharing it and other health-related research in their communities. The result will be even more children drinking the right beverages to make lifelong, optimal health possible.