When your little one is nagging for sweets, you might think that getting away with giving them a packet of raisins or some yoghurt coated strawberry pieces instead is a win. But new research has shown that 85% of these 'healthy' fruit snacks have more sugar than a packet of Haribo Starmix sweets.
Campaign group Action on Sugar looked at 94 processed fruit snacks on sale in the UK such as dried, coated or flaked fruit. Although most of the snacks had no added sugars – it's the naturally occurring sugars in the processed fruit that can cause tooth decay and contribute to child obesity.
- Tesco Yogurt Coated Strawberry Fruit Bites = 17.5g of sugar per serving
- Fruit Bowl Fruit Flakes Raspberry Rush = 17.3g of sugar per serving
- Whitworths Sunny Raisin Coated Custard Raisins = 17.2g of sugar per serving
- Organix Goodies Organic Fruit Gummies Strawberry & Apple = 8.1g of sugar per serving
Compare those with a packet of sweets...
- Haribo Starmix = 7.52g per serving
To put that into context with eating fresh fruit, a child would need to eat a whole 240g punnet of strawberries to take in the same number of grams of sugar as in 25g of some of these fruit snacks.
Action on Sugar advises parents to give their children fresh fruit and veg instead of processed fruit snacks – while calling on food manufacturers to stop labelling such high sugar-laden snacks as '1 of your 5 a day'.
But don't all fruits contain lots of natural sugar?
Yes, but a lot of this natural fruit sugar is contained within the cells of the fruit. In processed fruit snacks, these cells are broken down during the processing and the sugars are released.
In fresh fruit, the sugar is kept in the cells, which are only slowly broken down by our digestive system. This means the sugar is released more slowly into our bloodstream, which makes it easier for our liver to metabolise the sugar.
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The message is: Processed fruit is not a healthy snack
"Parents find it hard enough to know what 'healthy' is, without food manufacturers confusing matters with misleading claims," Katharine Jenner, campaign director at Action on Sugar says. "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."