The UK-based non-governmental organisation, which is campaigning for food and drink manufacturers to reduce sugar content, surveyed 203 children’s fruit drinks. More than a quarter (57) of which contained the same or more sugar than Coca-Cola, it said.
“It is a complete scandal that these drinks are marketed to children and parents as if they are ‘healthy’,” said professor Graham MacGregor, AoS chairman. “We need to stop Britain’s childhood obesity epidemic spiralling out of control.”
Admitted to hospital
Obesity among children aged four to five had risen and one in three children aged 10–11 are now overweight or clinically obese, he added. Tooth decay was also the most common reason children were being admitted to hospital in England.
“It’s not just tooth decay,” said Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist and AoS member. “There is increasing scientific evidence that regular sugary drink consumption is associated with an increased risk of type two diabetes and heart disease, independent of body weight, suggesting that we're all vulnerable.”
Parents should give their children water or whole fruit instead of juice and manufacturers should stop adding unnecessary sugars to their products, AoS urged.
Fruit juices didn’t need to be sweet, it added. Products with less sugar were available, such as Innocent’s 100% apple juice for children, which contained 15.6g of sugar per 200ml, which was a third less than Morrisons’ apple juice from concentrate at 22.8g of sugar per 200ml.
Anything containing sugar with levels of 22.5g per 100g was deemed high in sugar by the National Health Service, which says children should consume less than 85g of sugar a day.
The group also criticised government guidelines that stated a small 150ml glass of unsweetened 100% fruit juice could count to one of your five-a-day of fruit and veg.
“This recommendation is wrong and should be withdrawn,” AoS said. “Only six products are actually sold in 150ml portion sizes, which is no help to parents trying to make healthy choices.”