Dietary fructose consumption among US children and adults: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

Medscape J Med. 2008 Jul 9;10(7):160.


Context: High fructose intake has been associated with increased de novo lipogenesis in the liver as well as increased plasma triglycerides, insulin resistance, and obesity. Fructose occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables; however, it is added to many processed foods as table sugar (sucrose) and high-fructose corn syrup. Dietary data from a nationally representative sample in 1977-1978 estimated that mean consumption of fructose was 37 g/day (8% of total intake). Little is known about more recent fructose consumption patterns.

Objective: We determined the amount and sources of dietary fructose among US adults and children.

Design: We examined fructose consumption patterns by sex, age group, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and body mass index for 21,483 children and adults. We used a single 24-hour dietary recall administered in the third National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES).

Main outcome measure: Weighted estimates of fructose intake were tested for significant differences (P < .05) between groups.

Results: The mean consumption of fructose was estimated to be 54.7g/day (range, 38.4-72.8) and accounted for 10.2% of total caloric intake. Consumption was highest among adolescents (12-18 years) at 72.8 g/day (12.1% of total calories). One fourth of adolescents consumed at least 15% of calories from fructose. The largest source of fructose was sugar-sweetened beverages (30%) followed by grains (22%) and fruit or fruit juice (19%).

Conclusions: Over 10% of Americans' daily calories were from fructose. These results, when compared with a previous nationally representative study, suggest that fructose consumption has increased. Further research is needed to understand the impact of increased intake of fructose on human health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Beverages / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dietary Sucrose*
  • Eating*
  • Female
  • Fructose*
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Fructose