A new study suggests some do. So, what should we do next? Not panic, basically

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Image: Do fruit drinks have more sugar in them than Coca-Cola?

Breville USA / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr: Breville

A new study carried out by a health campaign group suggests more than a quarter of juices and smoothies aimed at children contain as much or more sugar than Coca-Cola – and some more than one-and-a-half times as much. Yowsers. 

Research conducted by the group Action on Sugar found more than a quarter (57) of the products tested contained five or more teaspoons of sugar in each 200ml serving: that's the maximum daily intake recommended for children by the World Health Organisation.


The campaign group tested 203 juices, smoothies and juice drinks marketed at children and found that more than half (117) would warrant a red warning for high sugar content on the traffic light labelling system.


Katharine Jenner, campaign director of Action on Sugar, said: “Juice should be an occasional treat, not an everyday drink.


"These processed drinks are laden with sugar and calories and do not have the nutritional benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables.”


While the health campaign group is urging parents to ditch the drinks in favour of water or whole fruit, Lucy Jones, nutritionist and member of the British Dietetic Association, suggested that although water was best for rehydration fruit juice should be drunk because of its levels of vitamin C – but as with everything, it was best consumed in moderation.

She told Homemade"Unsweetened fruit juice, and indeed smoothies, can contribute towards our 5-a-day.  However, only a 150ml portion is needed to achieve this, which is a relatively small amount.


"It is important not to over-consume and take in much larger portions, as this offers no additional 5-a-day benefit above and beyond the 150ml needed.  We would also recommend consuming these alongside meals to reduce the effects of tooth decay.”

Another BDA nutrionist, Chris Cashin, added: "We need to remember that fizzy drinks have added sugar while fruit juice contains natural sugars."


So should you ditch your kids' fruit juice drinks and smoothies? No, but make sure you and they stick to the recommended allowances.


Fruit juice is still a good source of vitamin C, although while fruit sugars are naturally-occurring they can still damage teeth if drunk excessively. Unlike processed sugars they are not implicated in other health conditions.


The British Soft Drinks Association (BDSA) said fruit juice consumption in the UK equated to just 45ml per day per person – that’s just 1% of the calories in a typical British diet.


Gavin Partington, director-general of the BSDA, told the BBC: “Given government figures show that the vast majority of adults and children are not getting their recommended five fruit and vegetables a day it is unfortunate this survey omits to mention the established health benefits of fruit juice, such as vitamin C which can also help with the iron absorbtion.”


If you want help and advice on sugar and diet it's all here at British Nutrition Foundation.