Obesity reflects the excessive accumulation of fats in bodies. The abnormal accumulation of fats poses various health dangers to people. The dangers include being at a risk of suffering from various health conditions such as obesity. Trasande and Chatterjee (2009) observed that obesity posed health risks which predisposed victims to incurring high medical costs in addition to other direct and indirect costs. The body mass index (BMI) is the most commonly used measure for obesity. BMI is obtained by dividing the weight (Kilograms) by height squared (Meters). A person whose BMI is 20 or more is considered is to be overweight. An individual who has a BMI of thirty or more is considered obese. Overweight and obesity present serious health risks for several chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular ailments. Previously, obesity was considered a problem that affected the high-income people. However, trends have shifted as obesity now affects even low-income people.
Key facts based on the WHO (2013) on obesity are as follows. Since the 1980’s, obesity has almost doubled. In the year 2008, over 1.4 billion adults were overweight. Of these people, over 200 million men and 300 million women were obese. In the same year, thirty-five percent of the adults were overweight while eleven percent were obese. It should also be noted that 65% of the global population reside in countries where obesity and overweight kill. Matters became worse in 2011 as more than forty million children (under the age of 5) were overweight. On an annual basis, childhood obesity costs were roughly 14.3 billion US dollars (Trasande & Chatterjee, 2009). Despite the negative statistics, obesity is preventable. In the United States, the rates of obesity have continued to rise as in the case of the trends across other parts of the world. In light of the above revelations, this paper seeks to examine the relationship between 100% fruit juice and the obesity problem in the United States. In order to achieve the goal, the NHANES data of 1999-2004 is sampled. The primary hypothesis is that the consumption of 100% fruit juice reduces the risk of becoming obese or overweight.
The main cause of overweight and obesity is an imbalance in energy which occurs due to a mismatch on the calories consumed and those expended (WHO, 2013). Put differently, when more energy is consumed than the amount that is used, obesity and overweight problems are likely to emerge. As the WHO observed, there has been an increase in the intake of energy-dense foodstuffs which contain a high amount of fats. Moreover, the research has confirmed that the consumption of sweetened fruits has a positive correlation with the increase in the incidences of obesity (DiMeglio & Mattes, 2000). In addition, there has been an increase in physical inactivity as people now embrace a sedentary lifestyle.
The consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks has continued to increase (Popkin, 2010). The statistics become grimier as an average American consumes approximately forty-five gallons of sweetened drinks per year (Andreyeva, Chaloupka & Brownell, 2011). Since the consumption of sweetened drinks is associated with high incidences of obesity, the trends of unhealthy living are likely to continue. The high incidence of obesity has been linked with the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks (Woodward-Lopez, Kao & Ritchie, 2011). The liquid calories do not induce a similar sensation as solid foods do. Hence, the calories drank are likely to add on those that are consumed as opposed to replacing them. Babey et al. (2009) established that adults who drank soda daily were twenty-seven percent more likely to become obese, regardless of their income, race or ethnicity. In regards to children, the risk was up to sixty percent. Hence, the consumption of soft drinks shows a tendency of increasing the risk of becoming obese and overweight.
Fruit Juice and Obesity
Fresh juice is counted among the natural power foods. Fruit juice has an important role in terms of its contribution towards health living (Franke et al., 2005). It is observable that fruits are rich in nutrients, minerals and vitamins. Based on what the fruit juices comprise, they strengthen the bodies’ powers to fight accumulated toxins. The fruits have concentrated natural sugar which is critical in bringing out vital energy.
Natural juice is an ideal source of minerals and vitamins. These substances are helpful in activating both enzymes and co-enzymes (Franke et al., 2005). In the absence of such activation, body enzymes would not be able to perform their duties as expected. The enzymes are responsible for several body functions such as digestion and absorption of food, which would become difficult if the body lacks the minerals and vitamins. Similarly, the enzymes play a significant role in the transformation of the minerals and vitamins into the body tissues.
Due to such benefits, consuming the fruit juices is commendable as opposed to the preference for sweetened drinks, which give false energy. Another important attribute is that fruit juice energy is often in the form of fructose (Ghanim et al., 2010). The process of transforming fructose to glucose does not require much energy from the body. Consequently, fruit juice energy is a critical source of real energy to the body.
The alarming statistics regarding the consumption of sweetened drinks has played a key role in influencing the lifestyle choices that people are making. Specifically, the society is now embracing a healthier lifestyle than it did some time back. This follows the realization that fresh fruit juice offers a better alternative to the sweetened drinks (Feldman, 2001). It has been alleged that 100% natural juice is more nutritious as it is nutrient-dense. The nutrients include vitamin C, potassium, folate, in addition to other natural plant compounds which promote healthy living (Feldman, 2001).
Consuming fruit juice has advantages and disadvantages based on the previous research. Consuming the juice during the morning hours relieves bodies from the need to invest heavily in food digestion (Ghanim et al., 2010). Consuming natural fruit juice is also associated with weight reduction (Ghanim et al., 2010). The consumption of natural fruit juice allows the body to focus on other aspects such as weight reduction since the burden of digestion is reduced.
Both the USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics noted that fresh juice was by far more nutritious as well as beneficial to human health. As the 2010 Dietary Guidelines indicated, 100% fruit juice accompanied by low fat milk offered a nutrient dense beverage which has a significant amount of nutrients, in addition to containing minimal calories. However, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines underscored the need to consume various foods moderately in order to obtain maximum health benefits.
The AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics suggested that serving four to six ounces of fresh juice to children in a day among children between the ages of 1-6 and twelve ounces to those aged between seven and eighteen could be helpful. Furthermore, the consumption of fruit juice has been closely associated with a positive influence on both diet and nutrition. Focusing on the data by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) of 2003-06, adolescents and children who consumed fresh juice enjoyed a more nutritious diet in comparison to non-fruit juice consumers (O'Neil et al., 2012). The primary reason was that the fruit juice consumers had a higher intake of significant nutrients such as magnesium, folate, calcium, phosphate, potassium and vitamins A and C. The recommendation by the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics coupled with the findings of the O'Neil et al. (2012) study on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys support the notion that fruit juice consumption improves health.
Another NHANES study indicated that the adult people who consumed the 100% orange juice showed a tendency to having a lower BMI, body fat, and waist circumferences in comparison to those who never drank the juice (Chun et al., 2011). Another notable finding from the NHANES study was that adolescents and children who consumed the 100% orange juice stood a better chance to comply with the My Pyramid health recommendations which calls for limiting sugary and flavored foods (Sebastian, Enns, Goldman, Bowman, Moshfegh, 2011).
It is tentatively conclusive that the consumption of fruit juice is healthy since the studies by Chun et al. (2011), Sebastian, et al. (2011) and O’Neil et al. (2012) based on the NHANES data concluded that consumers of 100% fruit juice had lower BMI, body fat and waist circumference.
Findings from past researches show that consuming fruit juice regularly is associated with a reduced exposure to chronic illnesses (Trasande & Chatterjee, 2009). Fruit juice offers fibers and other critical nutrients to the body leading to a healthy living. The fact that the Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans are published every five years manifests the significance of leading a healthy lifestyle. The inclusion of fruit and vegetable juice among the recommended dietary intake augments the view that they are significant components of healthy living.
In practice, any food or dietary guidelines are developed with the intention of helping consumers to select the most appropriate foods for a healthy living. The guidelines achieve that goal by providing quantitative value, which each person should meet. A food guideline gives details on recommended nutrient intake. Put differently, the guideline is particularly useful in the provision of a conceptual framework that assists in selecting the right amounts of food.
Focusing on the USDA Food Guide Pyramid is significant towards understanding how food should be consumed. The pyramid had divided food into five main categories (grains, fruits, vegetables, protein-rich foods and dairy). The grid provides quantities that should be consumed from each group, as well as the limits which cannot be exceeded. The measures are often given to reflect daily requirements.
The guidelines acknowledge the fact that the consumption requirements of different age groups or sexes differ. In addition, the drafters of the dietary guidelines appreciate the notion that physical engagements in terms of exercises influence the level/amount of food that should be consumed.
Fruit juice should be served twice to four times on a daily basis, based on the Food Guide Pyramid recommendations. Individuals who require a lesser amount of calories should consume a lesser amount of fruit juice while those with higher demands should consume more of the juice. Apart from the crucial information conveyed regarding fruit consumption, the guidelines also give information about every other food. Thus, the guidelines are of great value not only to nutritionists but also to consumers.