Fruit juice vs fruit drink
Fruit juice tends to have a healthy image, and 100% juice can give you valuable nutrients such as vitamin C and folate. But it doesn’t have the fibre of fresh fruit, and Australian dietary guidelines advise we only occasionally substitute 100% juice for fruit pieces as counting towards the recommended two serves a day. A serve of juice is defined as 125mL (half a cup), and most poppers contain double this amount.
Fruit drinks contain minimal juice (40% tops for the fruit drink products in our review) and added sugar, and for the most part should have the status of treats only. Golden Circle Pineapple and Golden Circle Sunshine Punch, for example, each give you more than six teaspoons (30.5g) of sugars in a 250mL pack. Others also contain some artificial colours of ill repute.
Diet and dental fodder
Like soft drinks, sugar-sweetened fruit drinks are energy-dense and nutrient-poor – in other words they’re packed with kilojoules and tend to offer little in the way of nutrients.
Like soft drinks, sugar-sweetened fruit drinks are energy-dense and nutrient-poor – in other words they’re packed with kilojoules and tend to offer little in the way of nutrients. Add to this the mounting evidence that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with an increased risk of weight gain, and you may think twice before sending your child off to school with a fruit drink popper every day.
Sugary drinks can also contribute to dental decay. Those drinks that are both sugary and acidic – such as fizzy and energy drinks as well as fruit juices and drinks – tend to be the worst offenders. A CHOICE test of processed foods and drinks found many food and drink products promoted for kids’ lunchboxes fall into this high-risk category – including some of those we looked at here.
A priority for many parents when choosing food and drinks for their kids is that they’re free of artificial additives. Artificial colours sunset yellow FCF (additive number 110), quinoline yellow (104), carmoisine (122), allura red AC (129), tartrazine (102) and ponceau 4R (124) in particular have been flagged as additives that kids showing signs of hyperactivity should avoid. Of the poppers we reviewed, GLO Orange Mango, Berry Blast, Apple Mango and Orange varieties and POP TOP Orange and Wild Berries varieties each contains one or more of these colours.
Concern about these six additives spiked in 2007, when researchers at the University of Southampton in the UK published research linking combinations of these colours and the preservative sodium benzoate to increased hyperactivity in some children. Subsequent reviews by the European Food Safety Authority and US Food and Drug Administration concluded that a causal link between exposure to the individual colours and possible effects on behaviour wasn't substantiated by the available evidence.
Despite this, it's now mandatory in the European Union for food and drinks containing any of these six colours to be labelled with the warning: "May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children." And the UK's Food Standards Agency actively encourages the food industry to participate in a voluntary ban of these colours in foods.
The Australian food regulator FSANZ advises that its 2006 study of added colours found Australian food manufacturers use these colours at much lower levels than those of the Southampton study.
- Berri Multi-V
- Black & Gold
- Coles Smart Buy
- Cool Sun
- Extra Juicy
- GC Raw
- Golden Circle
- Goulburn Valley
- Just Juice
- Pop Tops
- Popper Juice
- Robinsons Fruit Shoot
- Toddler Pops
- Toy Story 3 (KoolKidz)
- Westcliff (Aldi)
- Woolworths Homebrand
Did you know?
Australian children are consuming a lot of sugary drinks, according to a study from Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research published in January.
Using data drawn from the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, researchers found that about 80% of Australian children drank sugary drinks, including carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks, juices with added sugar, cordial, sports drinks, milkshakes/smoothies and flavoured milk. The majority (77%) were purchased in supermarkets, and 60% were consumed at home.