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Should fruit juice count as recommended five a day?

Official advice in the UK currently states that drinking a 150ml glass of unsweetened fruit juice counts towards your five-a-day, but campaigners are concerned these guidelines are causing more harm than good.

Action on Sugar believes parents are unaware that many juice drinks are laden with sugar – around six teaspoons – and come in cartons larger than recommended.

There is also a widespread misconception that other juice drinks such as squash and sweetened juice come under the recommended guidelines.

Nutritionist Kawther Hashem said: “Parents do not always understand the difference between a juice drink and a fruit juice. And most cartons come in 200ml or more.

“Many parents are still buying fruit juices and juice drinks for their children thinking they are choosing healthy products; children should be given as little juice as possible.”

Government advisor and Oxford professor, Susan Jebb has also expressed concern. She believes parents are increasingly using fruit juice as “routine rehydration” for their children.

This means several youngsters could be consuming dangerously high levels of sugar every day, which can cause teeth damage and contribute to weight gain.

Action on Sugar believes the removal of fruit juice from government guidelines could make a big difference.

Despite this, according to recent figures from the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA), fruit juice consumption in the UK equates to an average of just 45ml per person every day. This accounts for 1% of the calories in the average British diet.

BSDA director-general, Gavin Partington also highlights that fruit juices offer an important source of nutritional value.

“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.”

If you enjoy drinking fruit juice, Dr Alison Tedstone, of Public Health England suggests you consume no more than 150ml a day and leave consumption of high-sugar varieties such as smoothies to mealtimes. This is because drinking fruit juices with food can help reduce the risk of tooth decay.

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Tamara Marshall

Written by Tamara Marshall

Written by Tamara Marshall

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