Choosing a “healthy” option for your kids may give you a surprise

Choosing a “healthy” option for your kids may give you a surprise

Fruit juice drinks are loaded with sugar, says new study.

A new British survey just out says many of the commercially available fruit drinks and juices may not be as healthy as you may be led to believe, according to an article on

The study, led by Simon Capewell, a professor at the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at the University of Liverpool, found the drinks and juices contained as much as an entire day’s recommended sugar intake in a single serving.  And Pamela Koch, executive director of the nutrition program at Teachers College at Columbia University in New York, says she thinks the same would be found in drinks and juices available in the US.

“Many fruit drinks are excessively high in added sugars, as this study found,” commented Koch.  “Yet, these are often marketed as healthful products, confusing parents and children.”

The study team looked at 203 fruit drinks, 100 percent natural juices, and smoothies marketed to children and calculated the levels of “free” sugars in the almost seven-ounce size servings.  Free sugars are not only the ones added to the products, like glucose, fructose, sucrose, and table sugar, but also include sugars that occur naturally, such as honey, syrups, fruit juices and concentrates.  Sugars from whole fruits and vegetables that occur naturally are not considered free sugars.

The findings show that almost half the tested products contained 19 grams or more of sugar, an amount equal to about five teaspoons, and the amount recommended for a child’s daily intake.

Capewell said the parents have been misled, adding, “The sugar content of the fruit drinks, including natural fruit juices and smoothies tested, is unacceptably high. And smoothies are among the worst offenders.”  He called on manufacturers to stop adding unnecessary amounts of sugar to these type products.

However, the Juice Products Association said in a statement parents should feel good about giving these products to their children, stating that studies have shown drinking 100 percent juice is not associated with cavities and some studies have actually shown that drinking juice may even protect dental health.  The group also cited evidence that says drinking 100 percent juice is not associated with weight issues or obesity in children.

Capewell and his team recommended giving fresh fruit instead of juice, and when giving the child a juice to drink, use unsweetened juice, diluted with water, and only serve it at meal times.

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