Fruit drinks marketed for children and parents contain high amount of sugar that is unacceptable, researchers say. Many parents perceive fruit juices, smoothies and fruit drinks as a healthier alternative to other carbonated drinks. But this perception has turned out to be a misconception as new research shows that these products exceed the daily recommended maximum sugar intake.
The researchers analyzed fruit juices, fruit drinks and smoothies and found that more than 40% contain at least the maximum daily intake of 19 g of sugar and 64% containing half the maximum intake level, according to the study in BMJ Open.
The findings are based on the amount of ‘free sugars’ [The term “free sugar” refers to sugar naturally occurring in honey, syrups and fruit juices, or added by a manufacturer, rather than that found in whole fruit, vegetables and milk.]
Of the 203 fruit juices, fruit drinks and smoothies they analyzed, the free sugar content ranged between zero and 16g per 100ml. Among the 21 fruit juices, they found an average of 10.7g/100ml (just over two teaspoons). And in 24 smoothies there was an average of 13g/100ml (just over three teaspoons).
With these results, the researchers concluded that the sugar content in fruit drinks, juices and smoothies is unacceptably high and they also suggested that the manufacturers must stop adding sugars unnecessarily to these products.
Also, our body reacts differently to whole fruit consumption and fruit juices. Consumption of free sugars in such fruit juices may lead to an increase in total sugar intake and reduction in the nutritive value of the food. This leads to an unhealthy diet too.
The study highlights that fruit juices, drinks and smoothies as a group can’t be considered a low-sugar healthy drink on their own or to be a healthier swap for high-sugar fizzy drinks by default. Both fizzy drinks and juices can be very high in sugar. So parents looking to avoid fizzy drinks for their kids, it seems that fruit juices or smoothies can’t be considered safe ground.