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Sugar content is unacceptably high in children's fruit juices and smoothies.

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The sugar content in fruit juices, juice drinks and smoothies marketed to children "Is unacceptably high," with more than 40% containing at least the maximum daily intake of 19 g of sugar and 64% containing half the maximum intake level, researchers argue in a study published March 23 online in BMJ Open. 

The finding is based on the amount of "Free" sugars, including glucose, fructose, sucrose and table sugar added by the manufacturer and naturally occurring sugars in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates, found per 100 ml in 203 standard portion sizes of branded and private label products marketed to children. 

The results are particularly troubling given that most people underestimate the sugar in fruit juices and smoothies by 48% on average, and that many parents may replace sugar-sweetened carbonated drinks that are perceived as unhealthy with fruit juices, juice drinks and smoothies, which they believe to be healthier, the authors write. 

With this risk in mind, the authors call upon manufacturers to stop adding unnecessary sugars and calories to their fruit juices, juice drinks and smoothies that target children. 

The researchers argue that juices and smoothies high in free sugars should not count as a serving of fruit because the risks of the high sugar content outweigh the benefits. 

"Research shows the body metabolizes fruit juice in a different way compared to whole fruit. After whole fruit consumption, the body seems to adjust its subsequent energy intake appropriately, whereas after fruit juice consumption, the body does not compensate for the energy intake," the researchers add.

Top Reddit comment:

I feel like too many people don't understand that juice generally has little to no nutritional value, especially if filtered (i.e. non-pulp orange juice). Apple juice in particular is bad; it's effectively just sugar-water.

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