Is Junk Food Dangerous?

If you haven’t been watching Dr Oz on television, then you might not have heard about the high levels of arsenic in apple juice.  Apple juice made from apple juice concentrate, 60% of which comes from China, has been linked to high levels of arsenic.  Why is this a concern?  Arsenic along with other heavy metals is known to cause cancer.

In my opinion, there is a bigger concern – that most people who consume apple juice are children!  This goes to a bigger issue which is that food industries do not have our best intentions in mind.  Here is the thing: these companies are following the federal government’s guidelines set forth by the Food and Drug Administration.  They even responded to the Dr Oz Show saying, as much.  Is this enough?  No, not when no amount of arsenic should be considered safe for consumption.

It just goes to show that we, as consumers, need to be more diligent about what we are eating and what we feed our kids.  I’m not saying that our family’s diet needs to be perfect, but it makes me think that offering the occasional treat can be harmful.   In 2002, The Orange County Register did an expose on the levels of lead in children’s candy coming across the border from Mexico and its health effects on kids.  Children who were eating a high amount of these treats were being exposed to lead at an alarming high rate that can cause irreversible nerve damage.  Several health advocates agree that no amount of lead, arsenic or other heavy metals should be in our bodies.  I agree.  Why should we have acceptable limits for known carcinogens in our food, especially ones our children consume?

So, should we continue to offer apple juice to our kids?  You say,” Sharon, it has Vitamin C and added calcium!”  The American Academy of Pediatrics states that although juice has some benefits, it has some potential detrimental effects as well. Juice should not be offered to children under 6 months of age.  It offers no more nutritional benefits than whole fruit.  For children ages one to six, no more than 4 to 6 ounce of juice per day.  It’s tough for a parent to limit a child’s juice consumption, especially when they have a child already used to drinking juice regularly.   In the end we need to be more cautious about what we offer our kids and not let society, aka the food companies, tell us what to offer.  If you have young kids, offer them water.
You’re the parent, right?

About Sharon M., MS RD

As a registered dietitian and a master gardener, I know the healing power of food. Nothing has given me more satisfaction than growing my own food. I have experience working in the public health field, including school districts. I have worked with pregnant moms, children, diabetics, and bariatric patients. I emphasis a plant-based, whole food diet. Yet, I appreciate the movement of eating sustainably, while hoping folks appreciate the bean as a source of protein. "To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art." - Francois de La Rochefoucauld "Feeding is going well if both you and yor child are having a good time." -Ellyn Satter
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