A couple years ago, Dr. Robert Lustig startled many with “The Toxic Truth About Sugar,” arguing in the prestigious science journal Nature that it should be regulated like alcohol.
A year later, an Australian research team made a case for warning labels on sugary soft drinks due to the particular damage they do to teeth.
Now researchers at the University of Glasgow are recommending warning labels on a product they contend is just as bad: fruit juice.
Writing in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal, Professor Naveed Sattar and Dr Jason Gill – both of the university’s Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences – call for better labelling of fruit juice containers to make explicit to consumers that they should drink no more than 150ml a day.
They also recommend a change to the UK Government’s current “five-a-day” guidelines, saying these five fruit and vegetable servings should no longer include a portion of fruit juice. Inclusion of fruit juice as a fruit equivalent is “probably counter-productive” because it “fuels the perception that drinking fruit juice is good for health, and thus need not be subject to the limits that many individuals impose on themselves for consumption of less healthy foods”.
Indeed. As we’ve noted before, the trouble with fruit juice is that what nutrition it delivers comes with a whole lot of concentrated sugar – far more than one would get eating whole fruit, since many pieces of fruit are needed to make just a single serving of juice – and minus the fiber.
Despite it’s high sugar (not to mention acid) content, juice has one helluva health halo.
The researchers also tested public awareness of the sugar content of fruit juices, smoothies and sugar-sweetened drinks by carrying out an online poll of over 2000 adults. Participants were shown pictures of full containers of different non-alcoholic beverages and were asked to estimate the number of teaspoons of sugar contained in the portion shown. Although the sugar content of all drinks and smoothies was similar, the sugar content of fruit juices and smoothies was underestimated by 48% on average, whereas the sugar content of carbonated drinks was overestimated by 12%.
“Thus, there seems to be a clear misperception that fruit juices and smoothies are low-sugar alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages,” said Dr Gill.