Eliminating Fructose: A Nurse’s Perspective

February 19, 2016 Jayne Blackburn, MSN, RN, CCRN

You may have heard recently that Swedish Pediatrics is no longer offering juice to patients. I wholeheartedly support this decision, and here’s why.

As adults we’ve heard about how bad high fructose corn syrup is for us. We’ve also heard about increasing waistlines and the associated obesity epidemic in the US. Now we have to be concerned about the increased risk of children (and adults) developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the name for a combination of symptoms that usually occur at the same time and increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. These symptoms include:

  • High cholesterol levels
  • A large waistline
  • High blood sugar levels
  • High blood pressure

Fructose and the body

High fructose intake is a major factor in children (and adults) developing metabolic syndrome. How does juice play into this?

Juice is made up of a combination of fructose and glucose. Fructose gives juice sweetness and glucose provides needed energy for the body to run. That should be good, right? Wrong.

Fructose levels in juice are two to three times greater than the amount of glucose per 8-ounce serving. The fructose is metabolized by the liver and is only tapped for energy once the glucose stores in the body have been used up. When fructose is not in use, it is stored in fat cells. As fructose builds up in the body, it also can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (even in children), a disease very similar to alcoholic cirrhosis!

Over time, continued poor food choices and high fructose can lead to chronic liver disease and diabetes. So in the case of juice, better food choices are whole fruits (not processed), or glucose-based drinks such as Pedialyte® when children need rehydration.

More food changes at Swedish Pediatrics

We know many parents strive to make healthy choices for their children. We also know there are times when “nothing else works,” when kids are sick or tired and parents are at the “end of their rope.” We understand that at times like these, parents do what they need to do to get through that tough moment.

At Swedish Pediatrics, we also are revamping our menu offerings to provide healthier, child-friendly foods. My job as a nurse is to provide parents with the education they need to make informed decisions. The more we learn about fructose and other nutrition topics, the more information and resources we will have to share with our families.

If you have questions about your child’s nutrition, or your child has health problems related to nutrition, we can help. Learn about our Children’s Nutrition Services here, or call 1-800-793-3474 to schedule a consultation.

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