Consumption of apples is associated with a better diet quality and reduced risk of obesity in children: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2010

Nutr J. 2015 May 14:14:48. doi: 10.1186/s12937-015-0040-1.


Background: Most children do not meet the recommendation for fruit consumption. Apples are the second most commonly consumed fruit in the US; however, no studies have examined the association of total apple products, apples, apple sauce, and 100 % apple juice consumption on diet quality and weight/adiposity in children.

Methods: The purpose of this study was to examine the association between various apple consumption forms with diet quality and weight/adiposity in a nationally representative sample of children. Participants were children 2-18 years of age (N = 13,339) from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2010. Intake was determined using a single interview administered 24-h diet recall. Apple product consumption was determined using the cycle-appropriate USDA Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies food codes. Total diet quality and component scores were determined using the Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI). Anthropometrics were determined using standard methods. Covariate adjusted linear and logistic regressions were used to compare apple product consumers with non-consumers; sample weights were used. Probability was set at <0.01.

Results: Approximately 26 % of the population (n = 3,482) consumed some form of apple products. Consumers of apple products, whole apples, apple sauce, and 100 % apple juice had higher HEI scores than non-consumers: 50.4 ± 0.4 v 41.9 ± 0.3, 52.5 ± 0.5 v 42.7 ± 0.3, 52.1 ± 0.8 v 47.2 ± 0.4, and 51.4 ± 0.6 v 46.5 ± 0.4, respectively. Apple products and whole apple consumers had lower BMI z-scores than non-consumers: 0.4 ± 0.04 v 0.5 ± 0.03 and 0.3 ± 0.1 v 0.5 ± 0.02, respectively. Apple products and whole apple consumers were 25 % (0.59-0.95 99(th) CI) and 30 % (0.52-0.95 99(th) CI), respectively, were less likely to be obese than non-consumers.

Conclusions: Consumption of any form of apples contributed to the fruit recommendation of children and improved diet quality. Apples should be included in the diets of children as a component of an overall healthy diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Health*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet Therapy / methods*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Food Quality*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malus*
  • Nutrition Surveys / methods
  • Nutrition Surveys / statistics & numerical data
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Obesity / prevention & control*