Fact Sheet

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Fruit-flavored drinks are a leading source of added sugars in the diets of young kids

  • Children 2-5 consume 40% more added sugars than is recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.1
  • Preschoolers drink 4 teaspoons of sugar per day from fruit-flavored drinks. This is almost half of the recommended added sugars a 2-5 year old should consume in a day.1,2

What are fruit-flavored drinks?3

  • Contain added sugar and no more than 50% fruit juice
  • Also called juice drinks, juice beverages, fruit cocktails, nectars, and fruit drinks.
  • More than half contain NO fruit juice. Most are 10% juice or less.

Fruit-flavored drinks are the most common sweetened beverage of early childhood

  • Almost a third of 2-5 year olds drink fruit-flavored drinks on any given day.4
  • More calories per day come from these drinks than from soda, 100% fruit juice, or low-fat plain milk.2
  • Fruit-flavored drinks account for 75% of daily calories from sugary drinks.2
  • Black kids are more than twice as likely to consume fruit-flavored drinks as white kids. Low-income kids also consume more than higher-income kids.5

Just like soda, fruit-flavored drinks increase the risk for obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay

  • When sugar is delivered in a liquid form it bypasses the body’s defense against consuming too many calories – fruit-flavored drinks don’t make you feel full.6
  • Children who consume fruit-flavored or other sugary drinks daily have 55% increased chance of being obese or overweight.7
  • Infants who frequently consume fruit-flavored or other sugary drinks have 83% increased chance of cavities at age 6.8

Fruit-flavored drinks can have as much sugar as soda.


Fruit-flavored drinks are marketed as a healthy drink for kids

  • TV ads target parents using health messages, despite the drinks’ poor nutritional value. One-third of parents report that nutritional claims on the label, such as vitamin C and antioxidants, are important in deciding to purchase fruit-flavored drinks.9
  • The extra calories and sugar outweigh added vitamins. Vitamin C deficiency is very uncommon and 2-5 year-olds consume well in excess of the recommended daily amount, on average.1

Many parents think fruit-flavored drinks are healthy for kids

  • Parents are six times more likely to rate fruit-flavored drinks as healthy compared with soda.10
  • 80% of parents of preschools provide or purchase fruit-flavored drinks for their children, twice the amount who report providing soda.10
  • Thanks to targeted marketing, black and Hispanic parents are more likely to view them as healthy.10

Join the movement to protect kids from the health impacts of overconsuming sugar!

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1 Calculated based on US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. What we eat in America, NHANES 2011–12: Data Tables for added sugars consumption, energy intake, and vitamin C intake among 2-5 year olds: http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=18349.

2 Ford CN, Ng SW, Popkin BM. Ten-year beverage intake trends among US preschool children: rapid declines between 2003 and 2010 but stagnancy in recent years. Pediatr Obes. 2016;11(1):47-53.

3 Harris JL, Schwartz MB, LoDolce M, et al. Sugary Drink FACTS 2014: Some progress but much room for improvement in marketing to youth. Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity; 2014.

4 Watowicz RP, Anderson SE, Kaye GL, Taylor CA.Energy Contribution of Beverages in US Children by Age, Weight, and Consumer Status. Child Obes. 2015;11(4):475-83.

5 Han E, Powell LM. Consumption patterns of sugar-sweetened beverages in the United States. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013;113(1):43-53.

6 Pan A, Hu FB. Effects of carbohydrates on satiety: differences between liquid and solid food. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011;14(4):385-90.

7 Te Morenga L, Mallard S, Mann J. Dietary sugars and body weight: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials and cohort studies. BMJ. 2013;346:e7492.

8 Park S, Lin M, Onufrak S, Li R. Association of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intake during Infancy with Dental Caries in 6-year-olds. Clin Nutr Res. 2015;4(1):9-17.

9 Emond JA, Smith ME, Mathur SJ, Sargent JD, Gilbert-Diamond D. Children's Food and Beverage Promotion on Television to Parents. Pediatrics. 2015;136(6):1095-102.

10 Munsell CR, Harris JL, Sarda V, Schwartz MB. Parents’ beliefs about the healthfulness of sugary drink options: opportunities to address misperceptions. Public Health Nutr. 2016;19(1):46-54.

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