More than a quarter of fruit juices, juice drinks an smoothies aimed at children contain as much or more sugar than Coca Cola, according to a new survey by Action on Sugar.
The campaign group found 57 of the 203 products contained at least five teaspoons of sugar per 200ml glass.
It said the worst offender was Tesco’s Goodness Slurper Apple & Banana Fruit Smoothie Snack for Kids, which contained 16.1g of sugar per 100ml.
Asda’s Chosen by Kids Tropical Juice From Concentrate was also packed with sugar - researchers at Queen Mary University in London found 13g of sugar per 100ml in the drink.
AOS is campaigning to have the current UK guidelines which state that a small (150ml) glass of unsweetened 100% fruit juice can count as one of your ‘5 a Day’ withdrawn.
It said the research showed that children were being given huge amounts of unnecessary sugar in their diets.
“Our advice is to eat the fruit, don’t drink the juice,” said Katharine Jenner, campaign director of Action on Sugar. “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.”
Cardiologist and prominent anti-sugar campaigner Dr Aseem Malhotra added: “It is not just tooth decay but there is increasing scientific evidence that regular sugary drink consumption is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, independent of body weight, suggesting we are all vulnerable. Fruit juice and smoothies should not be part of a healthy balanced diet.”
However, British Soft Drinks Association director general, Gavin Partington, said the campaign could lead to even more children missing their 5-a-day target.
“Given government figures show that the vast majority of adults and children are not getting their recommended five fruit and veg a day it is unfortunate this survey omits to mention the established health benefits of fruit juice, such as vitamin C,” he said. “Then again, one should not be surprised that politically motivated campaigners are prepared to ignore the evidence in pursuit of their goal.”