Don’t be fooled by a product name or by the claim “contains 20 percent fruit juice.” Fruit drinks are basically water with a splash of real fruit juice and lots of added sugar. In fact, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, fruit drinks were the fourth leading source of added sugar in kids’ diets, right behind soda, candy, and sweetened baked goods such as cookies, pies, and cakes.
What exactly are fruit drinks? They include fruit punch, fruit “ades” (such as lemonade), and fruit-flavored drinks (such as Kool-Aid) -- basically any “fruity” beverage that is not labeled as “juice.” By law, only beverages that are 100 percent fruit juice can use the label name “juice” and any beverage that is less than 100 percent fruit juice must list the percentage of the product that is fruit juice and use a descriptive name such as “drink,” “punch,” or “cocktail.” Even though many fruit drinks are fortified with vitamins A and C or other nutrients, they provide more added sugar than anything else.
Many kids also order fruit smoothies from juice shops, but they may want to rethink their drink. Most smoothies and blended fruit juice drinks are served in extra-large portions and can be very high in calories.