Diet fads have long been popular among the young adult crowd. According to an article from the New York Post, increasing numbers of children are now also partaking in the “juice cleanse” fad, a process of ingesting juices instead of actual meals.
This is one example of how our society’s fascination with losing weight has blinded us from the true goal of fitness: staying healthy.
The premise of the juice cleanse lies in the “liquid diet” principle. By relying on blended versions of the body’s favorite fruits and vegetables, the promised benefits are bountiful: weight loss, better skin, better digestion, and so on. Yet while these juices are good as supplements, they become harmful when they are substituted for actual meals.
According to one student, who asked to remain anonymous, parents can have an influence on a child’s decision to juice.
“When I saw [my parents] do it, it just negated all the safety hazards. I couldn’t see them doing anything reckless, so I automatically assumed that if they did it, it was safe for me to do as well,” the former juicer told JSR.
“I knew replacing meals with juices wasn’t healthy. But when you want to lose weight and you have all these bottles within reach, how can you resist?”
The influence of these diet trends, after being passed from adults to teens and then to other teens, has now reached children. At an age where they should be developing healthy eating habits, many, such as six-year-old Sofia Davella, are instead reaching for their parents’ cleanses.
“I have to buy extra because I know she’s going to take it,” said Sofia’s mother, Sandra Davella, to the New York Post. “If I’m doing a three-day cleanse and I order for her, she goes [to the bathroom] every day.”
Although companies are capitalizing on this opportunity with products like the “Children’s Cleanse” being sold on Dherbs.com, doctors worry about the medical consequences of the cleanses.
Keri Gans, a dietician, told TIME, “Depriving children of necessary calories means slowing their development, both physically and mentally.“
“There’s nothing wrong with a child having these as a beverage,” Gans continued. “When they step over the line and use it as a cleanse, that’s when it gets insane. A growing child won’t get their full nutrition from a juice; not even adults will. There’s also the possibility that a young juicing habit can set the stage early for disordered eating.”
Eventually, the juice cleanse diet will likely go out of fashion only to be replaced by another lose-weight-quick gimmick like recent predecessors including the tapeworm diet and the paleo diet. A word to the wise: finding your own balance of eating habits and exercise will ensure not only a desirable weight but a healthier lifestyle that is more meaningful than digits on a scale.