DataBite: Are Kids Drinks Making the Grade?
The leisurely pace of summer is over and parents across the country are preparing to resume their early-morning lunch packing ritual. But which favorite food and beverage items will they be packing this year? Research shows that more Americans than ever before are focused on avoiding sugar and eating sustainably. And with rising numbers of children struggling with obesity and diabetes, several organizations and researchers have urged parents to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to reduce these risks.
A recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity suggests that most of us are not adept at estimating how much sugar is included in the everyday food and beverages we consume. Researchers have attributed this to a “health halo” hovering over things like fruit juice and other popular children drinks, leading parents to misjudge the sugar in them.
With that in mind, we dug into popular kids drinks - including juice boxes, juice pouches, fruit punch and lemonade - found in lunch boxes across schoolyards today. Using Label Insight’s data, we checked to see if kids drinks include sugar or other ingredients like high fructose corn syrup or natural colors and flavors that parents are trying to avoid.
The results revealed there aren’t a lot of products containing “better-for-you” ingredients. Our database revealed a total of 978 children’s drinks containing corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup. We also identified an additional 634 products with artificial color and 428 kids drinks containing artificial flavor. There were a total of 463 items with a “no high-fructose corn syrup” claim.
Parents who are mindful about the amount of sugar their children consume understand the importance of checking the label to spot “hidden” ingredients. We dug into the top high-fructose corn syrup alternatives being used in children's drinks: Sucralose was by far the most-used, with 2,164 products containing this ingredient. There were another 1,209 products containing cane sugar, closely followed by Acesulphame Potassium (1,173 products).
Brands and retailers have an opportunity to quench consumer thirst for more data and insights into the ingredients being used in the products they and their families consume.
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