The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF’s) Healthy Eating Research (HER) panel has released a set of age-based “Recommendations for Healthier Beverages” that urge government buildings, workplaces and other public venues to increase the availability of water and unflavored milk as replacements for high-calorie beverages. Billed as “an advisory panel of prominent researchers, nutritionists and policy experts,” HER evidently arrived at its findings after reviewing “current beverage standards, recommendations, and guidelines from scientific bodies, national organizations, public health organizations, and the beverage industry.”
HER has generally recommended that “water should be available and promoted in all settings where beverages are offered” and endorsed unflavored, low-fat and nonfat milk in age-appropriate portions as a way for children to get adequate amounts of calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and other nutrients. The panel would also permit the consumption of small amounts of 100 percent fruit juice—ranging from 0-to-4-ounce portions for preschool children and 0-to-8-ounce portions for adults—provided that each portion is mixed with water and contains no added sweeteners and less than 70 mg of sodium per portion for children ages 2-4 years, less than 100 mg of sodium per portion for children ages 5-10 years, and less than 140 mg of sodium per portion for children and adults ages 11 years and older.
For other types of beverages, HER recommended that products containing “synthetic food dyes, stimulants (e.g., caffeine), and other additives (e.g., electrolytes, artificial flavors)” should be avoided by all children between 2 and 13 years old. In addition, youths between the ages of 14 and 18 should consume “non-caffeinated, non-fortified beverages with no more than 40 calories per container,” while adults should also limit their consumption of beverages to those with less than 40 calories per container and should use only low-fat or non-fat milk in caffeinated beverages. The recommendations also note that “when used judiciously, non-nutritive sweeteners could help reduce added sugar intake” for adolescents and adults.
“Consumption of sugary beverages is a key contributor to many obesityrelated health issues,” concludes the report. “The reduction or elimination of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has great potential to help Americans reduce caloric intake, improve diet quality, and reduce their risk for obesity.”