Newswise — WASHINGTON DC (February 25, 2015) - When it comes to meeting the recommended servings of fruit per day, 100% juice in the diet makes a difference. According to a new study from the University of Washington Center for Public Health, published on-line in Nutrition Journal, Americans consume just over one cup of fruit per day, on average. This amount is well below the 1.5 to 2 cups per day (amount varies depending on age) recommended by the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines.

Overall, a jarring 75% of the population failed to meet the 1.5 cups per day goal and that number jumped to 90% when the goal was 2 cups per day. The study, which analyzed data from two cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for years 2007-2010, is the first of its kind to evaluate both whole fruit and 100% juice consumption. Here are the key findings:

- The typical pattern of fruit consumption for all age groups was two parts whole fruit to one part 100% juice. Overall, Americans consumed more whole fruit than 100% juice. - Children and adolescents consumed less than one-half of a cup of 100% juice per day, whereas older adults consumed less than one-third of a cup.- On average, children’s consumption of 100% fruit juice was well below the amount (4-6 ounces per day) recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children 4-13-years of age consumed less than one-half cup of juice per day (3.75 ounces).

“Fruit juice helped improve total fruit consumption and did not displace whole fruit in the diet,” said Dr. Adam Drewnowski, lead author of the study, Director, Center of Public Health Nutrition and professor of epidemiology in the Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Study results also showed that whole fruit consumption among adults was tied to education and incomes. Those least likely to consume whole fruit were adults with low-incomes and non-Hispanic blacks. Those groups made up the fruit shortfall with 100% juice.

“The social gradient was stronger for whole fruit than it was for 100% fruit juice,” said Dr. Drewnowski. “Dietary guidelines to increase total fruit need to take added costs into account. Using 100% juice as well as whole fruit can help level the economic playing field” to meet the guidelines can level the playing field for all economic levels.”

Based on the data, the advice to replace 100% juice with whole fresh fruit may pose challenges for the economically disadvantaged and some minority groups. For people on limited food budgets, 100% fruit juice can offer a more affordable and nutrient-dense option that can help them meet recommended dietary goals.

The study entitled “Socioeconomic gradients in consumption of whole fruit and 100% fruit juice among US children and adults” is available online as a provisional pdf. The study’s second author was Colin D. Rehm, postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman School of Nutrition and Policy, Tufts University.

SEE ORIGINAL STUDY