On July 25th, I appeared on Dr. Oz once again but this time to answer the question—Is Fruit Making You Fat? How about NO!!! Post airing I received a nice little note from The Juice Products Association. But before I share my wordy exchange, let me offer some behind the scenes insight.
During rehearsal, the good doctor and I had a nice chat about the reality of fruit and fat. And we both agreed that it’s not the whole fresh fruit but the overconsumption of juice whether your $6-$12 bottle of cold pressed, good ole Tropicana or deceptively healthy Ocean Spray that puts on the pounds. Thus I decided to pose this question to the Dr. Oz audience—“How many of you drink juice?” And even though Oz persisted that his followers know better (and that I would be pleasantly surprised) about 80% of the audience said YES to my question. SHOCKER!
Fast forward to the day after airing and I get this email (verbatim) and please note I left out the name of the person who contacted me purposefully:
Dear Ms. Sacks,
As a fellow nutritionist, I appreciate your concern about obesity and sugar intake of Americans as discussed on the recent Dr. Oz segment entitled “Is Fruit Making You Fat?” However, before your appearance, did you consider that the majority of peer-reviewed science does not show a relationship between drinking 100% juice and weight gain in children or adults?[i],[ii] Or the fact that 100% juice contains only the natural sugars found in fruit?
More than 75% of Americans do not meet fruit intake goals as set forth by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans[iii] and drinking 100% fruit juice can be an effective and attainable way to help meet these goals. Typical consumption patterns of the fruit category follow two parts whole fruit to one part juice, illustrating that juice is not replace fruit in the diet.[iv]
In regards to nutrient intake and juice consumption, one hundred percent juice contains the same important and valuable vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, such as vitamin C, potassium and folate, which are found in whole fruit. In some cases, drinking juice may actually provide more beneficial compounds, like polyphenols, than eating the fruit. These compounds give juice its distinct color, aroma and flavor.[v]
The new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) include 4 ounces of 100% juice as nutritionally equivalent to 4 ounces of whole fruit and recognize juice as a “primary beverage” for good reason. Next time you discuss this topic in the media or with clients, perhaps you should take into consideration scientific research indicating that juice drinkers have higher intakes of vitamins and minerals, increased overall whole fruit consumption and better quality diets than non-juice drinkers.[vi] In looking at dietary fiber levels, research shows people who drink juice have comparable or higher intakes than those who do not drink juice.[vii]
I would be happy to discuss or provide any additional research or information about juice. For more information you can visit our website juicecentral.org.
Nutrition Communications Manager
Juice Products Association
[i] Crowe-White K, et. al. Impact of 100% Fruit Juice Consumption on Diet and Weight Status of Children: An Evidence-based Review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2015 Jun 19:0. [Epub ahead of print]
[ii] Pereira MA,Fulgoni VL. Consumption of 100% fruit juice and risk of obesity and Metabolic Syndrome: findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999–2004. J Am College of Nutrition. 2010;29(6):625–629.
[iii] U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). (2016). 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (8th ed.). Washington, DC: USDA and USDHHS.
[iv] Drewnowski, A. and Rehm, C. (2015). Socioeconomic gradient in consumption of whole fruit and 100% fruit juice among US children and adults. Nutrition Journal, 14(3), 1-9. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-14-3.
[v] Clemens R. et. al. Squeezing Fact from Fiction about 100% Fruit Juice. Advances in Nutrition. March 2015 6(2):236S-243S.
[vi] Nicklas, T., O’Neil, C., and Fulgoni, V. (2015). Consumption of 100% fruit juice is associated with better nutrient intake and diet quality but not with weight status in children: NHANES 2007-2010. International Journal of Child Health and Nutrition, 4, 112-121. doi: 10.6000/1929-4247.2015.04.02.7
[vii] Same as above.
And my reply…
Dear Nutrition Communications Manager,
Much thanks for reaching out. Pleasure to e meet. I would appreciate a deeper understanding about Juice Central. I couldn’t find anything on your site. In other words, who actually funds you?
While I appreciate all of the science you are presenting (that I honestly do not have the time to read through), I think we can both agree, as nutrition professionals, that a majority of consumers believe that juice is a great alternative to fruit and that most of those consumers don’t understand (or care about) the difference between Ocean Spray and 100% cold pressed juice (likely the most nutritious juice on the market today). I have seen, first hand, clients and students misconceptions for close to 20 years and the health implications of their misguided belief systems.
My bottom line interest is my clients’ and students’ health (as well as my readers and viewers). Thus, guiding people to eat whole fruits and vegetables vs. juice will always be my stance. Fresh juice can surely be a part of a healthy diet but in no way should replace food (much of what I see on the front lines).
Thank you for reaching out and providing a resource in Juice Central. I am more than happy to continue the dialogue if you see fit.
The Nutrition Communications Manager responded to my email expeditiously and as expected, chose NOT to take the dialogue further as I made my point extraordinarily clear—let’s get real, we both know that Juice Central is working for industry whose bottom line is selling juice, not health!!! Thus here is the final note from the person who is, "rightfully", just doing her job...
Thanks for getting back to me, Stefanie! I was contacting you on behalf of the Juice Products Association, Juice Central is our consumer education platform.
I appreciate your consideration of the research we presented you and understand your concerns about consumer health. In the future, feel free to reach out to me for any questions you may have about juice and I’d be happy to keep you in the loop on any new research that comes up on the topic.
Have a wonderful day!
My message? Please don't underestimate the interests of industry and the money that goes into making YOU buy THEIR products whether truly healthy or not. Your health is NOT their bottom line. Get your #EdibleEducation and become a skeptical shopper!