If you had an 8-oz glass of Sunny D orange juice or an entire Hershey’s milk chocolate with almonds candy bar in front of you, which would you think had more sugar? If you guessed Sunny D, you are correct. Shockingly, the glass of “fruit juice” contains 20 grams of sugar while the candy bar contains 1 whole gram less. And even though your kids may still be buzzing from all their leftover Halloween candy, according to new research, the biggest source of added sugar in the American diet comes from beverages. The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity has just released a major study looking at the nutrition and marketing of over 600 sugary drinks to youth. You can read the full report here, but to give you an idea of what they found, here are a few of the findings:
- Sugary drinks contribute 22% of empty calories consumed by young people.
- For teenagers, sugary drinks are the No. 1 single source of calories.
- Drinking just one 8-oz sugary drink per day increases a child’s odds of becoming obese by 60%.
- Fruit drinks are as sugary as soda. When the nutrition for 8 ounces of regular (non-diet) soda, energy drinks and fruit drinks were broken down, the results showed a great similarity between all three with a median of 110 calories and 27 grams of sugar for fruit drinks and energy drinks (that’s 6.75 teaspoons of sugar!) and 110 calories and 30 grams (7.5 teaspoons) in the soda.
- 79 percent of the children’s fruit drinks had a label that read “natural flavors,” “naturally flavored,” or “all natural” on the package, but 40 percent of those juices actually contained artificial sweeteners. Did I miss the memo that sweetness is not a flavor and Splenda is natural?
It’s hard to ignore the claims many food labels boast, but often you have to ignore the front of the package. Read the nutrition labels and ingredient labels carefully and check for sugar, artificial sweeteners and artificial flavors. And like I tell all my clients, if you can’t pronounce or even remotely understand an ingredient, chances are you probably don’t want to consume it.