They are colorful, squeezable and have the term fruit all over, but kid-friendly smoothies are often just another sugary drink, as a study published last month highlighted. That study found that these drinks in the United Kingdom often come with as much added sugars as soda, giving a young child half of the highest amount of added sugar recommended per day.
That can lead to unhealthy weight gain in children. And that weight gain can mean higher cancer risk when children become adults, because many cancers are now linked to obesity, including colorectal and postmenopausal breast.
In the US, the story on smoothies is much the same. Many of the baby and child-focused drinks are called smoothies but the first two ingredients are milk and sugar. After that, comes fruit purees or juices, which means there is more sugar added than fruit. And some smoothies are simply milk, sugar and flavors, with no fruit at all. In two familiar brands, added sugar alone contributes 40-50% of the calories.
Say you’re a parent of a young child and you’re picking out a beverage for your kid. You’re scanning the options and see this label – would it make you pick another drink?
What about this one?
A new study finds that for many parents of 6 to 11 year olds, these or other similar warning labels are enough to avoid buying that sugary beverage for their child. At least that’s what parents said in an online survey. The study was published yesterday in the journal Pediatrics. (It coincidentally was released the same day that a ruling to require warning labels on sugary beverages failed to go forward in California.)
Avoiding sugary beverages is one of AICR’s recommendations for cancer prevention as it can lead to weight gain, for kids and adults. And excess body fat is a cause of many common adult cancers, including colorectal and post-menopausal breast.
The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans are out and they take a step in the right direction to help you make choices to lower your risk for cancer. Two key pieces of advice–eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of plant foods and keep sugary foods and drinks to a minimum. And that could mean fewer cases of cancer associated with poor diet and obesity.
You can put these into practice with our New American Plate model – filling at least 2/3 of your plate with vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fruit, and 1/3 or less with fish, poultry, meat and dairy.
The guidelines also recommend keeping your added sugar to 10 percent or less of your total calories. As we wrote earlier about the nutrition label and sugar, if you follow a 2000 calorie diet, you could have about one cup of fruit yogurt and one small dark chocolate bar. That’s because foods with high amounts of added sugar contribute to overweight and obesity, a cause of 10 cancers, including colorectal, postmenopausal breast and kidney.
Unfortunately, the Dietary Guidelines does not reflect the evidence-based recommendation from the independent expert committee to advise Americans to limit red and processed meat. It is disappointing that industry lobbying efforts succeeded in preventing the clear and simple message that these increase risk for colorectal cancer. AICR research has shown that red and processed meats are convincingly linked to colorectal cancer, and the World Health Organization has also recently established that link. Here’s our recommendation: