The amount of sugar in fruit drinks, juice drinks and smoothies targeted at children is “unacceptably high” researchers and campaigners say. On average they found 5 teaspoons of sugar per 150ml serving in the 24 smoothies they surveyed- close to the daily limit for a young child. In the journal BMJ Open, they argue such drinks should no longer count as one of the UK’s government’s 5 a day. But manufacturers say juices can make it easier to reach this target.
Current NHS guidelines state a 150ml serving of fruit juice or a 150ml glass of smoothie can count as one of the five fruit and vegetables people are encouraged to eat each day. At the same time, parents are advised that children between 4-6 years of age should consume no more than 19g of sugar a day, while children between 7-10 years should have a maximum of 24g. Researchers say that the way drinks are currently sold can make this very difficult to stick to. They looked at a range of fruit juices, juice drinks and smoothies sold at seven UK supermarkets between July and August 2014 focusing on drinks they felt were targeted at children. For example the cartons would generally fit children’s lunchboxes.
The NHS Choices website on the other hand, has specific advice about juice drinks, warning people to “watch out for drinks that say juice drink on the pack, as they are unlikely to count towards five-a-day and can be high in sugar”.