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Ban fruit juice to cut down on kids’ daily sugar intake, parents advised

Some products contain 7 teaspoons of sugar per 200 ml serving - more than a standard Coke

Caroline White

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Some shop-bought fruit juices/smoothies contain up to seven teaspoons of sugar per 200 ml serving — more than a standard Coca-Cola, finds an analysis* by campaign group Action on Sugar.

Parents should substitute whole fresh fruit or water for fruit juice in a bid to stave off their children’s daily intake of hidden sugars, and the heightened risk of tooth decay, overweight and obesity, conclude the researchers.

They collected data on the amount of hidden sugars contained in 203 fruit juices, juice drinks, and smoothies, readily available in Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, The Co-operative, Ocado and Morrison’s.

Over a quarter of products surveyed (57 of the 203 products) contained the same amount or more sugars than Coca Cola, which contains five teaspoons of sugar per 200ml glass.

With one in five children aged 4-5 and one in three aged 10-11 now overweight or clinically obese, and tooth decay being the most common reason for children in England being admitted to hospital, Action on Sugar is urging parents to give children water or whole fruit instead of juice.

And it is calling on manufacturers to cut the level of sugars in their drinks, and to stop adding unnecessary sugars and calories.

While portion sizes vary greatly, nevertheless over half (117) of the drinks surveyed would receive a ‘red’ (high) label for levels of sugars per standard 200 ml equivalent serving.

One in four children’s juices can contain at least six teaspoons of sugars (25 g) per 200 ml, which is the maximum daily intake of free sugars, recommended for adults.

Twenty four of the products surveyed contained more than 25 g sugars per 200 ml equivalent which is more than two and a half Krispy Kreme donuts.

And a quarter (59) of the products surveyed contained sugar or glucose-fructose syrup as an added ingredient.

When processed into fruit juice drinks, the sugars (fructose) in the fruit cell walls are released as ‘free sugars’ which can damage teeth and provide unnecessary calories.

Current UK guidelines state that a small (150ml) glass of unsweetened 100% fruit juice can count as one of the recommended ‘5 a Day’. But this recommendation is wrong and should be withdrawn, says Action on Sugar.

"It is a complete scandal that these drinks are marketed to children and parents as if they are ‘healthy’: this has to stop. We need to stop Britain’s childhood obesity epidemic spiralling out of control," comments chairman of Action on Sugar, Professor Graham MacGregor of the Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary University of London.

Dr Aseem Malhotra, cardiologist, Action on Sugar added: "It is not just tooth decay but there is increasing scientific evidence that regular sugary drink consumption is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, independent of body weight, suggesting we are all vulnerable. Fruit juice and smoothies should not be part of a healthy balanced diet."

Katharine Jenner, Campaign Director of Action on Sugar said: “Our advice is to eat the fruit, don’t drink the juice. Juice should be an occasional treat, not an ‘everyday’ drink. These processed drinks are laden with sugar and calories and do not have the nutritional benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables.”

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