Squeezing out juice from kids' diets may do more harm than good...

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Research shows pure fruit juice drinkers are 42% more likely to meet their 5 A Day[1] and it could help 4.7 million in UK[2] towards achieving the target

With 91% of children[3]  currently failing to meet the 5 A Day target, new analysis[4] of data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) presented today at the Nutrition Society Conference in Dublin demonstrates that pure fruit juice drinkers are more likely to meet the 5 A Day recommendation. 

Dr Carrie Ruxton who lead the research comments, “Sugar has become public enemy no.1 and while overall I advocate a reduction in sugar consumption, some parents have cut pure fruit juice completely from their children’s diets forgetting the essential nutrients such as vitamin C, folate and potassium[5] that it provides.  As this research shows, pure fruit juice drinkers are 42% more likely to achieve their 5 A Day and its consumption also does not displace whole fruit and vegetable intake from the diet.  With such a low number (9%) of children aged 11-18 meeting their 5 A day[6], I encourage a common sense approach to pure fruit juice consumption and recommend that a daily dose of 150ml (which equates to one of your 5 A Day) is entirely nutritionally beneficial.”

As well as showing that people who had higher pure fruit juice consumption achieve higher consumption of fruit and vegetables compared to those who do not drink fruit juice, the research also found that the small difference in “free sugars” (non-milk extrinsic sugar NMES) between teenagers who drink fruit juice (≤150ml /day) compared to teenagers who do not drink fruit juice was not significant. This means that drinking up to 150ml per day of pure fruit juice offers a benefit in terms of meeting the 5 A Day goal and has no impact on teens’ free sugar consumption.

Dietitian Dr Sarah Schenker, commenting on behalf of the British Fruit Juice Association, said, “It seems scandalous to me that parents might be scared off from giving their kids juice, when 5 A Day targets are so widely missed. We are advising people to regularly consume a sensible amount of 100% pure fruit juice with a 150ml glass. It is an easy and tasty way to get one of your 5 A Day and it can also help children become used to the taste of fruit and vegetables, helping lead to long-term positive food choices.” 

She continued, “This research suggests that eliminating fruit juice will not have an impact on free sugars intake, but will have an impact in achieving a much-needed serving of fruit and vegetables.   Pure orange juice is only fruit that is juiced and consuming a 150mL glass a day provides a high source of vitamin C, folate and is a source of potassium[7].  The sugars, carbohydrates and fibre in pure fruit juice are naturally occurring from the whole fruit from which it is squeezed[8].”

The research, presented as part of Poster Session 6 at the Nutrition Society Summer meeting at University College Dublin, was undertaken by nutritionists Dr Carrie Ruxton and Sigrid Gibson and conducted a secondary analysis of fruit juice intake and other dietary parameters in from the NDNS 2008-12 (n=2967; 11-99 year olds). The NDNS provides the only source of high quality nationally representative data on the types and quantities of drink and foods consumed by individuals. 

The research also revealed that contrary to some perceptions, we are not over-consuming juice.   The average fruit juice consumption was 83g per day for 11-18 year old and 52g per day for 19-64 year olds which is below the recommended daily amount of a 150ml portion which counts as one of your 5-a-Day.   Previous research has shown that pure fruit juice consumers tend to have a lower

[1] Fruit juice consumption is associated with intakes of whole fruit and vegetables, as well as non-milk extrinsic sugars: a secondary analysis of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) by S. Gibson, Registered Nutritionist, SiG-Nurture Ltd, 11 Woodway, Guildford GU1 2TF and C.H.S. Ruxton, Freelance Dietitian, Nutrition Communications, Cupar KY15 4HQ

[2] Ages 10-19 make up about 4.7 million people according to UK Office for National Statistics. 2011 Census: Usual resident population by five-year age group and sex, local authorities in the United Kingdom, ons.gov.uk

[3] National Diet and Nutrition Survey: results from Years 1 to 4 (combined) of the rolling programme for 2008 and 2009 to 2011 and 2012 From Public Health England and Food Standards Agency First published:14 May 2014

[4] Fruit juice consumption is associated with intakes of whole fruit and vegetables, as well as non-milk extrinsic sugars: a secondary analysis of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) by S. Gibson and C.H.S. Ruxton

[5] Commission Regulation (EU) 432/2012 of 16/05/2012

[6] National Diet and Nutrition Survey

[7] Commission Regulation (EU) 432/2012 of 16/05/2012

[8] AIJN Frequently Asked Questions. Available at: http://www.aijn.org/faqs Accessed on: March 14, 2016.

[9] Gibson S et al. (2015) Ann Nutr Metab 67 (supp1): abstract 149/1262.

Francesca Bagatti