Fruit, vegetable, and sugary drink consumption in young children


A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlined rates of fruit, vegetable, and sugary drink intake among young children by state.

Children aged 1 to 5 years are often regularly eating sugary drinks and not getting a daily intake of fruits and vegetables, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Daily fruit and vegetable intake, along with limited sugary drink intake, are encouraged by federal guidelines. To determine the frequency of fruit, vegetable, and sugary drink intake among children aged 1 to 5 years, the CDC evaluated data from the 2021 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH).

Surveys on paper and on the web are used by NSCH for data collection. Houses are randomly sampled from the Census Bureau’s Master Address File, with age-specific questionnaires administered. Surveys were completed by a household adult familiar with the health care of the selected child or adolescent.

Questions were about children’s fruit, vegetable, and sugary drink intake in the prior week. Responses included did not consume, consumed 1 to 3 times, consumed 4 to 6 times, consumed once daily, consumed twice daily, and consumed three or more times daily. This allowed a daily estimate to be recorded.

In the week prior to data analysis, daily fruit consumption was not seen in 32.1% of children, and daily vegetable consumption in 49.1%. Sugary drinks were consumed 1 or more times by 57.1% of children. Intake rates varied by state, with sugary drink intake ranging from 38.6% in Maine to 79.3% in Mississippi during the prior week.

Daily fruit and vegetable intake and reduced sugary drink intake was more likely among children aged 1 year than those older. Non-Hispanic Black children had the lowest rate of daily fruit and vegetable intake, while non-Hispanic White children had the highest. 

Sugary drink consumption at least once a week was lowest among multiracial non-Hispanic children at 47.5% and highest among Black children at 71.7%. Decreased food and vegetable intake and increased sugary drink intake were seen in children from households with low food sufficiency.

According to the CDC, increased sugar intake is associated with increased obesity risk, diabetes, dental caries, and cardiovascular disease. Limiting sugary drink intake can reduce these risks, while increasing fruit and vegetable intake can provide children with nutrients important for development.


Hamner HC, Dooyema CA, Blanck HM, et al. Fruit, vegetable, and sugar-sweetened beverage intake among young children, by state — United States, 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2023;72:165–170. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7207a1.

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