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Press releases

01 June 2017

Fruit juice drinkers have a lower BMI and waist circumference than non-consumers

Today, the British Fruit Juice Association announces the findings of its largest ever independent study into fruit juice.

The UK Fruit Juice Health and Diet Quality Study examined six years’ worth of existing National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) data. This included new data, made available in February 2017 for years five and six, to understand the positive effects that drinking fruit juice may have for those who consume versus those who do not. The analysis of nearly 6,000 children and adults also reviewed how much fruit juice is being drunk and by whom across the nation.

The study comes at a time when people are confused about both sugar intake and how to get their vitamins and minerals from food. In addition, currently all age groups are falling short on their 5 A Day consumption of fruit and vegetables, and a small 150ml portion of pure juice counts towards this target.

Healthier Body Mass Index (BMI) and Lower Waist Circumference with Fruit Juice

The most positive result of this study is that fruit juice consumers have a lower BMI and waist circumference than non-consumers.  As this is a cross-sectional study, this is a correlation and may or may not be cause and effect; fruit juice may be an indicator of healthy habits. The analysis had the following indicators for an all-around healthier lifestyle:

  • Adult fruit juice drinkers had significantly lower BMI (by 1.1 units)
  • Adult waist circumference was significantly lower by 3.2cm (women) and 2.7cm (men)
  • Consuming fruit juice is associated with a higher, not lower, consumption of fruit and vegetables across all age categories
  • Adults and teenagers who drink fruit juice are about twice as likely to reach their recommended minimum of 5-a-day, than non-drinkers. The current national average is under 3 portions for teenagers and just under 4 portions for adults

Consultant Dietitian Sian Porter said: “I think it is fair to say that people are still confused about fruit juice and its role in health. As this study demonstrates, the benefits of a 150ml portion of fruit juice as part of a healthier diet and its contribution to our 5 A Day, alongside health indicators such as BMI should not be overlooked.

“The 5 A Day goal has been around for quite some time but it is still not being achieved by most people in the UK. The new Fruit Juice and Diet Quality study1 shows that currently only 8% of children and 29% of adults eat enough fruit and vegetables. Coupled with the most recent recommendation to strive for '10 a day', people may be feeling overwhelmed.

“We, as healthcare professionals, can help everyone make this more of an achievable goal by knowing that a portion of pure fruit juice (150ml) counts as one portion and suggesting other small changes such as adding a vegetable side dish or having vegetables as snacks.”

One 150ml glass of pure fruit juice is a source of potassium and folate, which supports healthy cell division, and orange juice specifically provides 100% of your recommended vitamin C, which supports a healthy immune system. 100% pure fruit juice also contains no added sugar.  

Insufficient Fruit Juice Consumption to meet 5 A Day

The analysis showed that contrary to concerns about over consumption of fruit juice, UK consumers are not consuming sufficient pure fruit juice to meet the 150ml portion which counts as one of the 5 A Day. The current consumption pattern is:

  • 84 ml/day 11-18 years old (56% of the current 150ml portion)
  • 49 ml/day for 19+ adults (33% of the current 150ml portion)
Teenage Girls and Young Women are at Risk

Nearly half of all teenage girls have very low iron intakes, 22% have low iron stores and 5% have iron deficiency anaemia. Other nutrients that are marginally low in teen and young women’s diets include folate and potassium. In fact, within the study findings, teenage consumers of fruit juice obtain 35% of their vitamin C, 11% of their folate and 9% of their potassium from one serving of fruit juice, such as orange juice. Even more importantly, the vitamin C in pure fruit juice aids in the bioavailability of non-heme iron from foods such as porridge and breakfast cereals, consumed at the same time.

Sian Porter said: “With the growth and developmental changes in teenage girls and the challenges for young women seeking to be healthy, meeting the 5 A Day target is one of the best ways to ensure they get many of their requisite nutrients.  Healthy eating habits established now will give them the tools they need for a lifetime.”

Varied Regional Juice Patterns

Northern Ireland has the lowest consumption of fruit juice in the UK as well as the lowest level (3.2 portions) of fruit and veg consumption. People in England are more likely to achieve the 5 A Day target than those in other regions but within England, the North East and the West Midlands are the worst offenders.