NEW RESEARCH has revealed that 85% of processed fruit snacks contain more sugar per 100g than sweets, such as Haribo Star Mix, even though many parents think the snacks are a healthy choice.
The Action on Sugar research found huge amounts of hidden sugar in seemingly healthy fruit snacks aimed at children, such yoghurt-coated fruit bites, and dried fruit drops or leathers. Some contained over four teaspoons of sugar per serving.
With a third of girls and boys aged 11-15 years considered overweight or obese, and tooth decay currently affecting almost a third of 5 year olds, Action on Sugar is urging parents to provide children with fresh fruit and vegetables as snacks, instead of high sugar processed fruit snacks.
“Ready sliced fruit in snack pots are better than processed fruit snacks,” said Kawther Hashem, nutritionist at Action on Sugar. “To eat the same number of grams of sugars in a processed fruit snack (18g), your child will have to eat about 240g of strawberries – that’s equivalent to a whole punnet!”
Much of the packaging of the processed fruit products claim that the treats can count as “1 of your 5 a day”. However, new school food standards do not permit schools to offer children these products because they are categorised as ‘confectionary’.
Katharine Jenner, campaign director at Action on Sugar says: “Parents find it hard enough to know what is ‘healthy’ 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.”
The research found that 99% of the products surveyed would receive a ‘red’ colour coded warning on the label for high sugars per 100g.
Action on Sugar campaigners argue that the snacks are a completely unnecessary source of sugars and calories, contributing to tooth decay, obesity and type 2 diabetes, and should not form part of a child’s 5-A-Day. They have urged the new government urged to set sugar reduction targets immediately.