BMJ Open 6:e010330 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010330
  • Public health
    • Research

How much sugar is hidden in drinks marketed to children? A survey of fruit juices, juice drinks and smoothies

Press Release
  1. Simon Capewell3
  1. 1School of Dentistry, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  2. 2Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary, University of London, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Public Health and Policy, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ffion Lloyd-Williams; ffionlw{at}
  • Received 21 October 2015
  • Revised 14 December 2015
  • Accepted 8 January 2016
  • Published 23 March 2016


Objective To investigate the amount of sugars in fruit juices, juice drinks and smoothies (FJJDS) marketed to children.

Design We surveyed the sugars content (per 100 ml and standardised 200 ml portion) of all FJJDS sold by seven major UK supermarkets (supermarket own and branded products). Only products specifically marketed towards children were included. We excluded sports drinks, iced teas, sugar-sweetened carbonated drinks and cordials as being not specifically marketed towards children.

Results We identified 203 fruit juices (n=21), juice drinks (n=158) and smoothies (n=24) marketed to children. Sugars content ranged from 0 to 16 g/100 ml. The mean sugars content was 7.0 g/100 ml, but among the 100% fruit juice category, it was 10.7 g/100 ml. Smoothies (13.0 g/100 ml) contained the highest amounts of sugars and juice drinks (5.6 g/100 ml) contained the lowest amount. 117 of the 203 FJJDS surveyed would receive a Food Standards Agency ‘red’ colour-coded label for sugars per standardised 200 ml serving. Only 63 FJJDS would receive a ‘green’ colour-coded label. 85 products contained at least 19 g of sugars—a child's entire maximum daily amount of sugars. 57 products contained sugar (sucrose), 65 contained non-caloric sweeteners and five contained both. Seven products contained glucose-fructose syrup.

Conclusions The sugars content in FJJDS marketed to children in the UK is unacceptably high. Manufacturers must stop adding unnecessary sugars and calories to their FJJDS.

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