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Children and Sugary Drinks

I only give my children drinks with no added sugar, but I have read that these still may contain a lot of sugar and should only be given occasionally – why is this?

When a label says that drinks have no added sugar, it literally means that sugar has not been added as an ingredient. However, some drinks, such as fruit juices, already have a naturally high sugar content even though no sugar has been added. It should be noted that drinks containing natural sugars can still damage teeth, and should therefore only be given occasionally. Plain water and milk are the best drinks to keep your child's teeth healthy.

So why the confusion ? Well food and drink labelling can be very confusing no matter what the product. 'No added sugar' usually means the drink has not had sugar added to it as an ingredient. Whereas 'Unsweetened' usually means that no sugar or sweetener has been added to the food to make it taste sweeter. When drinks are listed as having 'no added sugar' or as being 'unsweetened', it doesn't necessarily mean that they won't contain naturally occurring sugars.

To be safe always check the ingredients lists on 'no added sugar' and 'unsweetened' drinks’ labels. These will tell you the ingredients that have been used, including the types of sweetener and sugar. You can also find information about how much sugar there is in the food in the nutrition panel on the label.

At best, although it may not be easy getting them to drink it, plain water and milk are still the best drinks to keep your child's teeth healthy ! Plus in the current economic climate you could always use the excuse with them that the children are helping to contribute toward the family finances ! Has to be worth a try ?