WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Before this point in time, researchers had never delved into the relationship between income level and the consumption of whole fruit versus 100% fruit juice. Sure, we have lots of data that clearly demonstrates levels of whole fruit consumption are tied to socioeconomic status, but what about 100% fruit juice consumption and income? In a nationally representative study of children and adults across the United States, data shows that income impacts not only the quantity of fruit being consumed, but also the type of fruit being eaten.1
If we’re being honest, we could probably all admit that our diets could use a bit more fruit (or if you’re being really honest, maybe even a lot more fruit!). As a nation, most of us fall short in consuming the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations for fruit intake. Those recommendations look like this:
- Children ages 1-3: 1 cup
- Children ages 4-8: 1 to 1.5 cups
- Children ages 9-18: 1.5 to 2 cups
- Adults: 1.5 to 2.5 cups2
Fruit is a very important dietary component specifically because of the potassium, vitamin C and fiber it provides. Among the overall U.S. population, about 15% meet these daily fruit intake recommendations, while nearly 80% do not.2
In regards to 100% fruit juice intakes, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents limit their children to drinking no more than 4-6 fluid ounces (0.5 to 0.75 cups/day) for children 1-6 years and 8-12 fluid ounces per day (1.0-1.5 cups/day) for those 7-18 years.3
Researchers were interested in understanding the relationship between income and 100% fruit juice consumption to evaluate if intake was similar to that of whole fruit. In other studies, research has demonstrated that overall fruit consumption is lower in lower-income neighborhoods.1 They wanted to see if the same held true for 100% fruit juice vs. whole fruit, so they analyzed data from nearly 17,000 children and adults across the country. Participants of the study were asked about their food consumption habits, including consumption of both whole fruit and 100% fruit juice. In addition, data was collected on age, income level, level of education and ethnicity.
For this study, a one-cup equivalent of fruit corresponded to 1 small apple, 1 large banana, ½ cup of dried fruit or 1 cup of 100% fruit juice.
Not surprisingly, the study showed that total fruit, whole fruit and 100% fruit juice intakes varied by age and socioeconomic status. A few of the key findings are listed below.
- Total fruit cup equivalents for people ages four and older averaged 1.06 cups, far short of the recommended amounts (1.5 to 2.5 cups, depending on age).
- Young children (ages 4-13) and adults ages 51 and older consumed more total fruit than either adolescents or younger adults.
- On average, total fruit consumption was composed of around 65 percent whole fruit and 35 percent 100% fruit juice.
- Among all age groups, individuals with the lowest income consumed significantly less whole fruit than higher income individuals.
- Among children ages 4-13, those of lower-income consumed significantly more 100% fruit juice than higher-income children.
WHAT THIS MEANS
There are many reasons why fruit intake is impacted by income. Economic constraints play a major role in determining the dietary choices families make. For example, families living in higher-income neighborhoods typically have access to supermarkets and grocery stores and are equipped with a means of transportation to drive to buy groceries. Families in lower-income communities sometimes lack access to grocery stores and supermarkets. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options.4
These factors may influence a family’s ability to regularly purchase whole fruits, making 100% fruit juice a more affordable and convenient option. In addition, fresh fruits and vegetables may spoil if not eaten or prepared a few days after purchase, leading to waste, which is a particularly unappealing to anyone with a limited grocery budget.
It’s perfectly reasonable to consume 100% fruit juice as a way to help meet your daily fruit intake recommendations. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that no more than half of an individual’s daily fruit servings come from 100% fruit juice. Since only 9% of participants in the study consumed more than 1 cup of 100% fruit juice a day, the rest of the population were, on average, well below this amount.
Since current fruit consumption levels fall short of recommended goals, parents should feel confident in serving 100% fruit juice to their children as part of a balanced, nutritious diet to help increase fruit consumption. The best way to ensure the highest quality juice for your child is to always check the ingredients label for added sugars – all you need is 100% juice!
More on 100% Fruit Juice:
Fill Half Your Plate with Fruits & Veggies
How Much Fruit is Needed Daily?
The Whole Truth About 100% Fruit Juice
TheBuzz: 100% Fruit Juice or Whole Fruit?
Concord Grape Juice: More Than A Tasty Beverage
ChooseMyPlate.Gov – Fruits
Video Center: Selection. Storage. Preparation.
How Many Cups Do You Need?
Key Nutrients in Fruits & Vegetables
Fruit & Veggie Database