The Truth About Juice

The link between soda and poor health is the talk of the town as the research becomes ever clearer on the strong link between sugary beverages and risk for chronic disease. For good reasons, the public health community has heavily targeted those bubbly sugary drinks, but juice drinks (and even 100% fruit juice, if consumed in high quantities) are similarly harmful.

y2515e02_1In fact, many consumers are unaware of just how much sugar is in 100% fruit juice (and juice drinks are a whole other story).

While 100% fruit juice contains vitamins and minerals, it also has a lot of sugar. Eating whole fruit and vegetables instead of drinking juice provides more nutrients like fiber, which helps us feel full longer.

Below is a table outlining common fruit juice and fruit drink names and their accompanying percentages of real fruit juice. Many beverage companies put pictures of fruits and vegetables on their product packaging to suggest health. These packages can be deceptive. Reading the Nutrition Facts label is your best bet for knowing the actual fruit juice content of these kinds of drinks. Make sure to look for 100% juice.

Juice terms

Adapted from a resource prepared for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations:

It’s best to avoid serving juice of any kind to young children and to stick to serving water or low-fat milk instead (or breast milk for children who are still breastfeeding). But, if you do serve 100% fruit juice, ensure your child or a child in your care isn’t drinking too much by following these limits from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Birth to 6 months. No fruit juice, as it offers no nutritional benefits to this age group
  • 6 to 12 months. If juice is given, limit it to 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup and serve it in a cup (not a bottle) to avoid tooth decay.
  • 1 to 6 years. No more than 3/4 cup a day.

Healthy & Active Before 5 has a Healthy Food & Beverage Policy (and so do many other Contra Costa organizations). Our policy holds us accountable by stating that we will not serve sugar sweetened beverages or 100% fruit juice to children or adults at any of our agency’s events, activities, or celebrations. Consider adopting a Healthy Beverage Policy at your organization. If you qualify, your organization could get a $500 mini-grant to support policy implementation.

Need some ideas for alternatives to sugary drinks for your little ones? Check out our last blog post!

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Alternatives to Sugary Drinks

glass-of-waterProviding easy access to healthy alternatives for sugary drinks can help reduce sugary drink intake among little kids and adults alike. Sugary drinks, (or “sugar-sweetened beverages” in public health-speak), includes soda, juice drinks, sports drinks, and any other beverage with added sugars.

Studies show that when folks don’t have ready access to clean drinking water, they tend to drink more sugary drinks. And, when healthier beverages are more available, people consume healthy beverages more and unhealthy beverages less. All good reasons to keep healthy drinks within reach. Check out our sample Tap Water Promotion Policy for ideas on how to make tap water more accessible and enjoyable.

Need some ideas? Here are a few great alternatives for sugary drinks that you can serve to little kiddos (ages 2-5) or enjoy yourself:

  • Water straight from the tap. Tap water in Contra Costa is safe to drink. Chill it to improve the flavor.
  • “Spa” water with a slices of fruit or vegetables (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, cucumber, apple, berries, melon, pineapple, fresh ginger, mint, basil, you name it!)Glasses Of Drink With Ice Cubes And Fruits On White Background
  • Low-fat/non-fat milk (or soy/lactose-free alternatives)
  • 100% juice (no more than 1/2 cup serving per day)
  • Sparkling water with no sugar added
  • Homemade smoothies made with real fruit and no added sugars

What are your favorite alternatives to sugary drinks?

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Rethink Juice Drinks

sugar bitesAccording to the FDA a “juice drink” is any beverage with some (but less than 100%) fruit juice that is diluted with other ingredients like added sugars. Juice drinks, soda, flavored milk, and sports drinks can destroy teeth, and lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. All of these drinks contain added sugar, and most of the time a lot of it.

It’s hard to imagine how much sugar is in a juice drink container, but with a simple math equation, you can visualize how much sugar is in any type of juice drink, soda, energy drink, sports drink—you name it.

Nutrition Facts labels on beverages and other food products list the grams of sugar per serving. Remember not every drink is 1 serving!

If you divide the number of grams by 4, you get approximately the amount of teaspoons in that serving.


grams (g) of sugar ÷ 4 =   teaspoons of sugar

Screenshot 2014-06-02 10.22.25



Here’s an example of a typical juice drink:

← This juice drink contains 27g of sugar.


27g ÷ 4 = 6.75 teaspoons of sugar 


Now looking at those sugar cubes, would you put that many into a child’s drink?

Protect kids. Sugar Bites.

Posted in added sugar, flavored milk, juice drinks, Nutrition Facts, sports drinks, Sugar Bites, sugar sweetened beverages, tooth decay, type 2 diabetes | Leave a comment

Breastfeeding Training for Promotoras in the Monument Community


Over the past two months, Healthy & Active Before 5 (HAB45) provided a training series for Spanish-speaking community health advocates or promotoras on providing peer counseling to breastfeeding mothers, primarily in Concord’s Monument neighborhood.

The local news source ConcordPatch recently ran a story on this training which you can find here.

HAB45 collaborated closely with Contra Costa Health Services’ Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program and Monument Impact to offer this free 20-hour training called Loving Support.

Loving Support trainings are usually offered in English, but many Spanish-speaking educators have found it challenging to translate common breastfeeding terminology and concepts in a way that is clear and culturally relevant.

Of the trainings, one participant wrote in Spanish:

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE “It has helped me to increase my knowledge and understanding of how to help other moms, promote the importance of breastfeeding, and share information that breast milk helps the baby to grow up healthy. The training has helped me to have confidence in my ability to express myself in helping and promoting breastfeeding.”

Jeanette Panchula, a bilingual Public Health Nurse and certified lactation consultant, is leading the training sessions. Panchula has provided breastfeeding education and support as a La Leche League Leader since 1975. She translated portions of the Loving Support materials into Spanish for the Concord class.


Loving Support Trainer, Jeanette Panchula

“Many mothers quit [breastfeeding] because they don’t see any other alternative when they come against a barrier,” Panchula said. “The more people in the community who are knowledgeable, the better the chance that when a mom has worries, someone will know someone who will be able to recognize the problem and respond positively with, there is help and I’m here to get you to them.”

As of last Friday, we achieved our goal to provide 20 promotoras in the Monument Community with the necessary skills to offer quality, evidence-based breastfeeding peer counseling to breastfeeding moms in the community, so that more breastfeeding woman are connected to community resources.

These promotoras are now trained and ready to make a difference within the Contra Costa County community.

group photoawardsana

This training was made possible thanks to the generosity of Kaiser Permanente Northern California Region Community Benefit Monument HEAL Zone Initiative and Kaiser Permanente Diablo Service Area Community Benefit. We are also very grateful to our partners from Monument Impact and Contra Costa Health Services WIC Program who contributed in-kind resources, participant recruitment, and staff time.


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