Food Labels on Sweetened Beverages Are Confusing Parents

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Current label laws fail to give parents and guardians enough details on various food labels. Because of this, parents are confused, and they are likely to add to the widespread drinking of sweetened beverages by young children. 

Such data were based on the new paper from experts at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut and School of Global Public Health at New York University. 

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Parents are confused

The study found out that food labels of the most famous sweetened beverages for kids make parents confused. They can't spot the key ingredients, added sugars, diet sweeteners, and juice percentage in these drinks. 

Experts showed food labels of 8 famous children's sweetened beverages and sweetened fruit drinks, flavored waters, and unsweetened juice and water blends during an online experiment. They showed these products and food labels to parents who viewed either the front of the package alone or the front of the box with the label panel that includes the nutrition facts and ingredients list. 

The cause of confusion

62% of the parents are confused and could not spot most drinks that contained diet sweeteners, even when the packaging showed them the food labels panel. 

Besides, parents were more likely to believe products' statements with the words "natural" and "water beverage." They think that this means that the drink did not contain added sugar or diet sweeteners and did contain juice. However, they are mainly used on children's sweetened beverages with added sugar, diet sweeteners, and no juice. 

Most parents were familiar with and had bought the drinks in the study and felt confident in their ability to spot added sugars and juice content in the children's glasses. But, less than one-half (48%) were satisfied with their ability to spot diet sweeteners in these drinks. In conclusion, parents are confused. 

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Sweetened beverages and children

Jennifer Harris, the lead author and research advisor, said that child health experts suggest that young children should not drink products with added sugars. Yet, many of the most famous children's fruit drinks and flavored waters contain both. 

She added that drink packages and food labels should give transparent and easy-to-understand ingredient details on the package front. That is to help parents choose healthier drinks for their children. 

Their study shows that current label laws and practices fall short and can mislead parents about what is really in the drinks that they serve to their young children. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other leading health organizations suggest that young children should not drink sugary drinks or products that contain diet sweeteners. The recently released U.S. Dietary Guidelines for infants and toddlers also suggest against these products for children under age 2. 

As this study shows, the current labeling of sweetened fruit drinks, flavored waters, and juices does not give enough details for parents to spot healthier drinks for their children. Such findings show the need for updated laws and practices to require precise information of added sugar, diet sweeteners, and juice content on the front of the food labels. 

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