Do fruit snacks contain more sugar than sweets?
Action on Sugar conducted an investigation to find out the sugar content in supposedly healthy snacks for children. The campaign group checked 94 products on sale in the UK, including coated dried fruit, and came to a shocking conclusion. The results showed a third contained between three and four teaspoons of sugar, and 85% of the products were more sugary than Haribo Starmix.
Child health experts have commented on the findings, saying they were “frightening”.
The industry has defended the products, pointing out that the snacks do not have any added sugars, and the ones that have are clearly labelled.
Advice to parents
Action on Sugar has advised parents to provide their children with fresh fruit and vegetables instead of the processed fruit snacks that have abnormally high sugar levels.
The group has also called on snack manufacturers to stop adding extra, unnecessary sugars to fruit based snacks, especially when they label them as ‘one of your five-a-day’.
Act on Sugar’s campaign director, Katharine Jenner, said: “Parents find it hard enough to know what ‘healthy’ is without food manufacturers confusing matters with misleading claims.
“Whole, unprocessed fruit is healthier than processed fruit snacks and fruit juice drinks, as it contains vitamins, minerals, water and fibre, and does not cause the devastating tooth decay we see in young children today.”
To consume the same amount of sugar in some processed fruit snacks, a child would have to eat an entire punnet of strawberries.
The chairman of the nutrition committee at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Colin Michie, said the results of the investigation were “frightful” and “stunning”.
“None of us needs sugar in our diets at all. It is all completely unnecessary.
“Fruit contains fibre, which we all need to function properly, but in these snacks the benefits of fruit have been sacrificed by covering them in yogurt and other sugary coatings.”