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Feb 12, 2014 05:35 AM EST

Fruit Juices is As Bad as Fizzy Drinks, Study

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Glasgow University researchers found fruit juices to contain similar amounts of sugar as fizzy drinks. The researchers said that drinking fruit juice poses the same level of heath risk as sugar- sweetened drinks.

"Fruit juice has a similar energy density and sugar content to other sugary drinks, for example: 250ml of apple juice typically contains 110 kcal and 26g of sugar; and 250ml of cola typically contains 105kcal and 26.5g of sugar," Professor Naveed Sattar from the university's Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences said in a statement.

Professor Sattar also said that drinking fruit juices does not carry the same benefits as eating the fruit itself. A glass of fruit juice contains significantly more sugar than a piece of fruit, plus, the fibre is either absent in the juices or present in smaller quantities.

Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine, and Dr Jason Gill from the university's Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences discovered a link between elevated fruit juice consumption and a heightened risk of diabetes. The researchers said that reducing the intake of fruit juices can lead to lower obesity and heart attack rates. Even though the fruit juices contain vitamins and minerals that is absent in sugar-sweetened drinks, Dr Gill said that this "might not be sufficient to offset the adverse metabolic consequences of excessive fruit juice consumption."

The researchers conducted a survey of over 2000 adults. They asked the participants to determine the sugar content of fruit juices, smoothies and sugar-sweetened drinks. Although the sugar content of all non-alcoholic beverages were similar, the participants underestimated the sugar levels of fruit juices and smoothies by 48 percent on average, whereas they overrated the sugar amounts in carbonated drinks by 12 percent.

Dr Gill said that this survey clearly reveals the misconception that fruit juices and smoothies are low-sugar alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages.

The researchers are urging the UK government to place labels on fruit juice containers that explicitly tells people not to drink more than 150ml (¼pt) a day. They have also asked the government to change the 'five-a-day' guidelines by saying five fruit and vegetable portions should no longer include a portion of fruit juice.

Considering fruit juice as a fruit equivalent is "probably counter-productive" because it "fuels the perception that drinking fruit juice is good for health, and thus need not be subject to the limits that many individuals impose on themselves for consumption of less healthy foods," the researchers say.

The finding is published in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal.

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