Food watchdog: Children’s drinks have as much sugar as soda

Many popular children's drinks contain as much, if not more, sugar than soda, according to a study done by food watchdog Foodwatch. Consuming too much sugar can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart problems and strokes.

Foodwatch examined 184 children's drinks sold by the five large supermarkets in the Netherlands - Albert Heijn, Jumbo, Lidl, Aldi and Plus. The average sugar content for 200 ml of these drinks is 16.2 grams. Coca cola is only slightly higher at 21.2 grams per 200 ml.

In almost a quarter of the examined drinks, 45 drinks, the sugar content was even higher than that of coca cola. Among these are "fruit" drinks with added sugar and chocolate milk. Some of the most extreme cases are drinking yogurts, with 26 grams of sugar per 200 ml. "One drink one time can not hurt. But children take this every day to school." according to Foodwatch.

Some drinks contain less actual sugar, but are sweetened by artificial sweeteners. Foodwatch is concerned about the safety of these so-called "healthy alternatives". According to the food watchdog, the World Health Organization and specialists at Harvard University do not consider artificial sweeteners healthy alternatives at all. "Harvard is critical of artificial sweeteners because the long term effects are not known, they may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and may confuse your feeling of fullness with weight gain as a result."

Foodwatch is calling on Minister Edith Schippers of Public Health to intervene. According to the food watchdog, the Agreement Enhancing Product Composition, which aims at food producers regulating the reduction of sugar, fat and salt in foods themselves, is not working. "Foodwatch is calling Minister Schippers to no longer leave the health of consumers in the hands of the food industry and to take measures herself."

In 2014 Foodwatch named popular kids' drink Capri Sun the most misleading product of the year, precisely because of its sugar content.