While whole fruit consumption increased in children between 2003 and 2016, the intake of several important nutrients decreased over time, a new study shows. Adding 100 % orange juice to the diet could help address this shortfall and bolster intake of other key nutrients.
A cross sectional analysis using the nationally representative National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data on children ages 2 to 18 found significantly higher intakes of whole fruit yet a significant decrease in the intake of folate, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin C, vitamin D, sodium, potassium, iron and zinc over these time periods.
The FDOC-funded study published in the International Journal of Child Health and Nutrition in July, found that from 2003-2016, the amount of all 100 % fruit juice consumed decreased 44 percent while the percentage of total fruit consumed from whole fruit increased from about 45 percent in 2003 to 65 percent in 2016.
However, the intake of 100 % orange juice (and other 100 % fruit juices) was the likely food source(s) associated with increased consumption of calcium, potassium and phosphorus in certain populations at both time periods (2003 and 2016) and OJ consumers tended to have lower intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages.
The researchers suggest that a possible strategy to decrease inadequate intake of calcium, potassium, and phosphorus is to increase the consumption of 100 % orange juice and other 100 % fruit juice and decrease the consumption of sweetened beverages and coffee/tea.
“Potassium and calcium are under consumed by Americans and have been deemed nutrients of public health concern. These nutrients are important for growing children and 100 % orange juice, particularly calcium-fortified juice, can help enhance the intake of these and other key nutrients,” said Dr. Rosa Walsh, Director of Scientific Research for the Florida Department of Citrus.
Further, vitamin C intake in children has decreased over time and more children have inadequate intake levels. While not linked directly to the decreased consumption of 100 % fruit juice, the results suggest that the increased intake of whole fruit is not adequately addressing vitamin C shortfalls.
Adding 100 % orange juice to the diet, in appropriate amounts as outlined by the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), can help address the shortfalls or gaps in the intakes of folate, thiamin, vitamin C, potassium and vitamin D in fortified juices. The AAP guidelines suggest limiting portions of 100 % fruit juice to 4 oz. a day for children 1 to 3, 4 to 6 oz. a day for children 4 to 6 and 8 oz. a day for children 7 to 18.
More research is needed to determine the best way to support childhood nutrition. FDOC’s Scientific Research Department has several ongoing projects with researchers to examine the role of 100 % orange juice in the diets of children and adolescents.