One reason for childhood obesity is too much sugar in drinks
Posted on November 16th, 2014

Dr Hector Perera            London

Prof Graham Mac Gregor, of the Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary University of London, and chairman of Action on Sugar, said: It is a complete scandal that these drinks are marketed to children and parents as if they are healthy. This has to stop. We need to stop Britain’s childhood obesity epidemic spiralling out of control.”

Far too many smoothies

Supposedly healthy supermarket smoothies and juices aimed at children can contain up to eight teaspoons of sugar – more than one-and-a-half times as much as in Coca-Cola, according to a survey carried out for a health campaign group.

Some smoothies are green that are supposed to contain spinach, others with different colours such as strawberry smoothie, banana then mango smoothie then mix fruit smoothie are some of them are commonly found in supermarkets. Then there are peaches and passion fruit smoothies, cherries and strawberry smoothies, then also strawberry, raspberry, blackberry smoothies. That is not the end there are apple, mango and pineapple smoothies. Actually there are some more combination of fruit smoothies but the most common thing is sugar in them. The question is how much sugar is found in each different kinds?

 Healthy mixed fruit drinks in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka some shopping centres in Colombo there are places who make fruit drinks of your choice then and there. They have fruits on display then you choose whatever you need in your mixed fruit juice. Try and see passion fruit, papaya, mango and pineapple mixed fruit juice, it tastes so delicious, and certainly nutritious as there are no added sugar. I think it is no harm to have some ice cream as well on top of the drink. Some people add colourings and vanilla essence as well but it is your choice. Perhaps you may add some condensed milk, yogurt or some plain milk as well but not necessary. Who would say that combination needs any added sugar? Now there are coconut water bottles and packets are in the UK supermarkets.

Attractive packaging can mislead

Some are bright and child friendly packaging tempt the parents to buy them for their children but they contain plenty of sugar. The parents are given the wrong impression that those smoothies are healthy and notorious, no wonder they are tempted to buy them for the children. It was found out that some smoothies contain 7 or even 8 grams of sugar in 200 ml of smoothies. It is shocking to find a few milk shakes have 32 grams of sugar in 320 ml of fluid. Who would argue that is quite healthy and child friendly.

Fruits are naturally sweet

Naturally the fruits are sweet so the juice as well are sweet but some producers add far too much sugar as said before. In places like Sri Lanka they have naturally sweet fruit drinks such as young coconut and king coconuts where one can drink the water in the fruit then if necessary eat the soft and tasty kernel. Health experts from Action on sugar warned the parents to avoid fruit juices altogether unless it was at mealtimes. They also advised watering down drinks or swapping them for plain water. Their advice was to eat the fruits but not to drink fruit drinks or juices unless at an occasional treat, but not as an everyday drink, said Katharine Jenner, Campaign Director of Action on Sugar.

A quarter of the products tested had at least six teaspoons for every 200ml glass, the maximum adult daily intake recommended by the World Health Organisation, the research found.

Action of Sugar analysis

The campaign group Action on Sugar analysed 203 juices, juice drinks and smoothies marketed for children and found that more than a quarter (57) contained as much sugar or more than Coca-Cola, which has 10.6g for every 100ml (equivalent to five teaspoons in a 200ml glass). More than half (117) would attract the red warning on the traffic light labelling system for high sugar content.

The group said the drinks were a major and unnecessary” source of sugars and calories that were contributing to record levels of tooth decay, obesity and type 2 diabetes among children. It urged parents to give children water or whole fruit instead of juice.

Fifty-nine products also contained sugar or glucose-fructose syrup as an added ingredient, providing unnecessary extra calories and further damage to growing teeth.

UK health guidelines state that a small (150ml) glass of unsweetened 100% fruit juice can count as one of the recommended five a day. But Action on Sugar said this was misleading and should be withdrawn.

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.”

WHO recommendations

The group said fruit juice consumption needed to be limited according to the draft recommendations from the World Health Organisation. For far too long people have been drinking litres of fruit juice thinking it is good for them, but actually fruit juice is loaded with naturally occurring sugars that are released from cells to cause damage to our teeth and it has been associated with type 2 diabetes. Many companies now use the five a day logo on fruit juices even though their products exceed the amount of juice recommended by the government. This is totally misleading.”

British Soft Drinks Association

Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said: Given that 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. Then again, one should not be surprised that politically motivated campaigners are prepared to ignore the evidence in pursuit of their goal.”

The increase in childhood obesity over the past several decades, together with the associated health problems and costs, is raising grave concern among health care professionals, policy experts, children’s advocates, and parents. Patricia Anderson and Kristin Butcher document trends in children’s obesity and examine the possible underlying causes of the obesity epidemic. They begin by reviewing research on energy intake, energy expenditure, and “energy balance,” noting that children who eat more “empty calories” and expend fewer calories through physical activity are more likely to be obese than other children. Your comments are welcomed



One Response to “One reason for childhood obesity is too much sugar in drinks”

  1. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    It is not just the diet but the culture of the television. The television is so addictive a person defines his day around the programs offered to that “one eyed monster”. If one ever looks objectively at those watching TV they have a glazed look in their eyes. they do not move, and only do so in a commercial to get some snacks.

    Before I came to the United States in 1971 Ceylon was a culture based on the radio. The only time we saw a movie, I mean a real movie was when we planned to go to the Savoy, or the Majestic or the Royal to see one. The rest of our free time was spent playing, inter relating with friends and family WITHOUT THE EVER PRESENCE OF THE TELEVISION.

    One can have a radio on and still do the normal work for it is less demanding. It only needs your ears. You can move around, talk to others and if music is playing even dance to it. When we came to the US and bought our first television the relationship in the family started to change. Everyone eventually was focused on some program that has to be watched and less time was spent interrelating to one another.

    when I visited Sri Lanka in 2009 and had the chance to go to a dinner with some well to do Sri Lankans I noticed their very expensive house lacked any copies of paintings on the wall, no mirrors, or other ornamentation normally found in an American house, but what dominated the entire house was the multi colored Television set blaring out. Then the “TV culture” had not fully taken hold of Sri Lanka as seen in the US where from young to very old are seated all day staring at the television set, feeding themselves with snacks and tuned out to everything else.

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