Opportunities to Increase Transparency and Support of Public Health.

Recent literature has indicated fruit-flavored drinks are the most common sugar-sweetened beverage consumed by children. The purpose of this study was to compare children’s drink products that contain juice to identify opportunities for future policy development by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The research consisted of three objectives: 1) identifying laws and gaps on children’s drink products on the FDA website, 2) identifying children’s drink products with at least $10 million in sales (n=39), and 3) analyzing principal display and information panels of products identified in store and online.

Results showed that FDA allows a variety of claims on children’s beverages that purport to contain fruit juice, some of which could be misleading such as “100% vitamin C”. Out of 39 products analyzed, 38 had fruit on their labels and 10 did not contain any of the fruit pictured on the label. For the products that did contain juice (n=26), apple juice was the primary juice and was not always pictured on the label (n=6). Diluted fruit juices and fruit-flavored drinks­ had varying statements on labels such as “naturally flavored” and “juice beverage”. No product analyzed had claims about added sugar, but some did report “100% vitamin C” (n=11) and “no/low/zero sugar” when a nonnutritive sweetener was added (n=9). Researchers concluded that revising label regulations would support caretakers’ efforts to provide healthy diets for young children, and furthermore, support public health.

Study strengths: This study highlighted the need for regulatory revision and future research related to labeling of children’s drink products. Researchers were also able to focus their label analysis on fruit-flavored drinks to compare labels across similar products.

Study limitations: Researchers were not able to analyze all children’s drink products on the market. Additionally, consumer perception of the labeling terms was not included in this study. Future research should focus on other children’s drink products and assess consumers’ perceptions and their ability to interpret claims on labels.

What this means for your practice: Educating caregivers about the differences between fruit-flavored drinks and 100% juice may be helpful. Resources on how to identify fruit-flavored drinks, as well as recommended limits for 100% juice may be found on RethinkYourDrinkNevada.com. In addition, eligible medical and dental care professionals can receive free educational materials for use in their practice to promote healthy beverage choices. For more information, call 775-784-6445.

Original citation: Pomeranz, J. L., & Harris, J. L. (2020). Children’s Fruit “Juice” Drinks and FDA Regulations: Opportunities to Increase Transparency and Support Public Health. American Journal of Public Health, (0), e1-e10.

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