The next time you offer your children a healthy smoothie instead of a fizzy drink, you may want to remember that it could contain half of a child’s recommended daily sugar intake. Research published in the online journal BMJ Open describes the sugar content of fruit drinks, juices and smoothies as “unacceptably high”.
Even 100% fruit juice is not as innocent as it seems. Researchers from the University of Liverpool and the University of London in the UK assessed the sugar content per 100ml of juice drinks using information from the pack label.
They checked the amount of “free” sugars in 203 standard portion sizes (200ml) of UK products. Free sugars include glucose, fructose, sucrose and table sugar, which are added by the producer, as well as naturally occurring sugars in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. Although fructose occurs naturally in fruit, when consumed as a drink, it can cause tooth decay. The average sugar content in the drinks surveyed was 7g/100ml, or around 1.5tsps. It was significantly higher in pure fruit juices and smoothies.
The average sugar content of the 21 pure fruit juices in the survey was as high as 10.7g/100ml or just over 2tsps, and in the 24 smoothies, it was up to 13g/100ml, or just over 2.5tsps. Over 40% of all the products contained 19g, or around 4tsps, of free sugars, the maximum daily amount recommended for children.