Hey Sugar, Sugar! How much sugar is in my child's juice?

Since writing several articles on how much sugar children are eating or drinking, I’ve received additional questions from POWerful Parents regarding this topic. Specifically, “how much sugar is in juice?” “how many grams of sugar are in a teaspoon?” and “how much juice can my child have in a day?” Let’s answer these questions today. Please comment directly below the article on DrRobynsBlog.com because if you have a question other parents probably have the same question– as you can see here!

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Hey Sugar, Sugar! How much sugar is in my child’s juice? How much juice can I give to my child?

By Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman
www.DrRobyn’sBlog.com

How much sugar is in juice?

It can be confusing. After all, juice comes from fruit and fruit is good for us. It’s one of our food groups! Many juices have antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals—so shouldn’t we give our kids a lot of it? In this case, too much of a good thing is not a good thing.

The amount of sugar in juice depends on the brand and type of fruit juice we’re discussing. For example;

  • Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice and Apple and Eve Clear Apple Juice contain 22 grams of sugar per 8 ounce glass. Since four grams of sugar is in a teaspoon then an 8 ounce glass of orange juice would have 5 ½ teaspoons of natural sugar in it
  • Juicy Juice has 26 grams of sugar in an 8 ounce glass, which means that it has 6 ½ teaspoons of natural sugar in it.
  • Minute Maid Fruit Medley (which does have some added ingredients) has 32 grams of sugar per 10 ounce bottle. That’s 8 teaspoons of sugar.

These juices say 100% juice and therefore do not add additional sugar—fruit is simply sweet and contains “fruit sugar” (n : a simple sugar found in honey and in many ripe fruits [syn: fructose, levulose, laevulose]).

The medical world is quick to remind us that “it’s much healthier to eat the fruit rather than drink the juice. For example, a 12-ounce glass of orange juice, which is the juice of two to three oranges, has about 180 calories . But eating one orange is only 80 or 90 calories and it does more to fill you up.” (University of California, San Francisco, Children’s Hospital)

How many grams of sugar are in a teaspoon, tablespoon, and cup?

According to the Sugar Association, these are the number of grams in a:

 

Teaspoon brown sugar (packed)

4

Teaspoon white sugar

4

Tablespoon brown sugar (packed)

12

Tablespoon white sugar

12

Cup brown sugar (packed)

192

For more information on sugar grams to teaspoons (and sugar in common children’s foods) please read my article, Pour Some Sugar on It: How Much Sugar is in My Child’s Food?

What should I look out for when giving our children juice?

First, follow the guidelines for fruit juice consumption (below), second, don’t make a habit of giving children sweetened fruit juices, and third, remember that many of these individual juice bottles contain more than one serving. As you read in my article Sugar Wars: How much sugar is your family drinking?, these drinks can have as much sugar in them as soda.

For example:

Minute Maid Cran-Grape

38 grams per 8 ounce serving/almost 10 teaspoons of sugar. High fructose corn syrup and sugar added

Tropicana Grape Juice Beverage

38 grams per 8 ounce serving/almost 10 teaspoons of sugar. High fructose corn syrup added. *Individual bottle is 15.2 ounces!

Try some alternatives such as flavored seltzer or plain old water. Other alternatives are outlined in my previous Sugar Wars article. Some fruit juice companies also provide some alternative. For example, Tropicana offers an alternative called “fruit squeeze” which is fruit juice flavored water with only 4 grams of sugar per serving.

How much juice should/could my child drink in a day?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics’s Guidelines for Fruit Juice Consumption in Children:

  • Juice should not be introduced into the diet of infants before 6 months of age.
  • Infants should not be given juice from bottles or easily transportable covered cups that allow them to consume juice easily throughout the day. Infants should not be given juice at bedtime.
  • Intake of fruit juice should be limited to 4 to 6 oz/day for children 1 to 6 years old.
  • For children 7 to 18 years old, juice intake should be limited to 8 to 12 oz or 2 servings per day.
  • Children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits to meet their recommended daily fruit intake.
  • Infants, children, and adolescents should not consume unpasteurized juice.
  • In the evaluation of children with malnutrition (overnutrition and undernutrition), the health care provider should determine the amount of juice being consumed.
  • In the evaluation of children with chronic diarrhea, excessive flatulence, abdominal pain, and bloating, the health care provider should determine the amount of juice being consumed.
  • In the evaluation of dental caries, the amount and means of juice consumption should be determined.
  • Pediatricians should routinely discuss the use of fruit juice and fruit drinks and should educate parents about the differences between the two.

Reference: American Academy of Pediatrics. Committee on Nutrition. The Use and Misuse of Fruit Juice in Pediatrics. Pediatrics: 2001; 107(5):1210-1213.

Keep your questions and comments coming! We would love to hear from you! Please comment below

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Facebook comments:

17 replies
  1. wardfunk
    wardfunk says:

    Insightful article, Dr. Robin! Though I don’t yet have children, I try to limit my own sugar intake and your connecting grams to teaspoons was very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Melba
    Melba says:

    Amazed to learn my children, who drink 5 juice boxes each per day should only have 1. Time for a shift in thinking!!
    Thank you for the enlightenment.

  3. Bubbles
    Bubbles says:

    I do wonder about some sugar free drinks that contain aspartame and other artificial sweetners, can they still be classified as sugar with regard to the effects it has on the body?

  4. Shaping Youth
    Shaping Youth says:

    Hi Dr. Robyn, Amy from Shaping Youth here…we’ve been deconstructing the sugar juices/pouch drinks in our counter-marketing with kids as well as the so called “energy drinks” and sports drink concoctions so would love to share data/outcomes/input. Here’s an example where we counter-marketed Capri Sun:

    http://www.shapingyouth.org/blog/?p=225

    (CSPI thankfully made it so they can no longer put ‘natural’ and misleading labels on them, tho now it’s even more confusing as some are 100% juice and some are HFCS in a pouch, and some are artificial sweetners! hard to keep it all straight!)

    My e-mail is crashed, but system support tech doc is headed my way, so hope to be able to touch base w/you and align by the weekend…looking forward, –Amy

  5. Alisha
    Alisha says:

    Dr. Robyn, I couldn’t agree with you more! Thanks for all of the info! We limit all sweets, and juice in our house. In fact, the only reason our 3 year old even drinks the 2 oz. of juice a day that he does it because that’s how we get in his fish oil. He EATS his fruit! It’s sad that food companies hide that HFCS in so many inconspicuous places!

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