A health group has warned that many caring parents are packing juices in their children’s lunchboxes, thinking that it contains less sugar than fizzy drinks.
Action on Sugar assessed in excess of 200 juices, fruit drinks and smoothies, only to find that more than 25% contained as much or more sugar than Coca-Cola, which contains 10.6g per 100ml.
The worst juices found by the Queen Mary University of London-based research group were Asda’s Chosen by Kids Tropical Juice From Concentrate and Tesco Goodness Slurper Apple & Banana Fruit Smoothie Snack for Kids. The juices contain 13 grams and 16.1 grams of sugar per 100ml respectively.
Nutritionist, Kawther Hashem, from Action on Sugar said that this was extremely worrying, particularly when considering the rates of tooth decay and childhood obesity.
She stated that the survey focused on juices aimed at children or marketed as being lunchbox-friendly.
She said fresh fruit juices, which contain added sugar, tend to be better than juices or fruit drinks made from concentrate. She said that although it was not clear, the ones at the top of the sugar list were usually those made from concentrate. She recommended that parents offer their children diluted juice, or the better option of water, with a piece of fruit.
Her recommendation is that parents avoid drinks which have been sweetened artificially. The encouragement of sweet consumption trains a child’s taste buds and it is preferable to offer a child a piece of orange instead of something which tastes like an orange.
Action on Sugar has asked manufacturers to reduce the amount of added sugar. It has also called on the Government to withdraw advice that a small glass of unsweetened fruit juice can be counted as one of the daily fruit and vegetable consumption recommendations.
According to the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA), the consumption of fruit juice in the UK is equal to an average of only 45ml per person per day, which accounts for 1% of the calories in an average British diet.
Director-General of BSDA, Gavin Partington, said that since Government figures indicate that most adults and children do not get the recommended five fruit and veg each day, it is unfortunate that the survey omits to mention the health benefits of consuming fruit juice, such as vitamin C. He said that it is not surprising that campaigners who are politically motivated opt to ignore the evidence while chasing their goal.
The chief nutritionist at Public Health England, Alison Tedstone, asked families to be aware of their overall sugar consumption, but did not support call for the withdrawal of juice from the five-a-day guidelines.
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