BARTOW – A new research report shows that Americans continue to consume less and less fruits and vegetables despite consistent dietary advice to the contrary. An accompanying decline in the consumption of 100% fruit juice, such as orange juice, is likely a significant contributor to the issue.
The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) reported in its “State of the Plate: America’s Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Trends” that Americans continue on a 15-year decline in the consumption of fruits and vegetables. The report shows that fruit and vegetable consumption has declined nearly 10 percent and that Americans are eating produce just once each day. The news is troubling given the breadth of research that supports the diet and health benefits of consuming a variety of fruit and vegetables in recommended amounts. Additionally, juice consumption declined 8 percent over the past 5 years.
Leading the charge in this downward trend is a decrease in the frequency of vegetable and 100% fruit juice eating occasions – down 16 percent and 15 percent, respectively, since 2004. Nearly one quarter of Americans did not eat any fruit over the course of the week. Although the amount of fruit (not including juice) consumed at each occasion rose, it was not enough to stem overall declines.
For juice, eating occasion losses are occurring in all age groups. The newest 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans cites 100% fruit juices as a recommended beverage for almost all age groups because of its nutrient density and lack of added sugars. Overall, declines in fruit and vegetable consumption were highest for older millennials.
100% fruit juice counts as a fruit serving and an 8-ounce serving of 100% orange juice is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of potassium, folate, and thiamin. Orange juice also provides beneficial plant-based compounds, specifically the polyphenol hesperidin, that may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other health benefits.
“Our own research on OJ, using a nationally representative sample of Americans, is similar to PBH’s data in that we showed significant decreases in 100% juice intake and some increases in whole fruit intake in certain age groups over time,” said Gail Rampersaud, a registered dietitian nutritionist with the Florida Department of Citrus. “Additionally, our data show an overall decrease in vitamin C intake over that time period so obviously the loss of vitamin C from juice, particularly OJ, is not being replaced by whole fruit or other foods. Fifty-six percent of consumers in the PBH study say they want more vitamin C so this points to the importance of 100% OJ in the diet for getting key nutrients and meeting recommendations.”
Other noteworthy trends:
• Across all age groups, oranges were ranked as the fourth highest fruit consumed based on number of eating occasions and the fifth most popular “top growing fruit” over the past 5 years.
• Citrus ranked as the fourth highest fruit consumed by volume (average cups per eating occasion).
• Orange juice continues to be the most popular juice consumed but, after fruit/vegetable juice blends, also has one of the highest consumption declines over the past 5 years.
• Grapefruit juice and orange juice ranked as the top 2 juices consumed by volume (average ounces per eating occasion).
• The two top motivators for choosing fruit are health/nutrition and convenience (cited by over two-thirds of adults).
• Children 1 to 3 years old have shown a significant decline in fruit consumption. Intake is also down in children 4 to 8 years old, which is especially alarming because young children are typically among the highest fruit consumers.
PBH’s most recent research was conducted prior to COVID-19 and included more than 15,000 respondents from the NPD Group’s web-based National Eating Trends® database.
About the Florida Department of Citrus
The Florida Department of Citrus is an executive agency of Florida government charged with the marketing, research and regulation of the Florida citrus industry. Its activities are funded by a tax paid by growers on each box of citrus that moves through commercial channels. The industry employs more than 37,000 people, provides an annual economic impact of $6.5 billion to the state, and contributes hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues that help support Florida’s schools, roads and health care services. For more information about the Florida Department of Citrus, please visit FloridaCitrus.org.