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Medicine The Almighty Buck Science

Fruit Drinks Aren't Much Better For You Than Soda: Study (vox.com) 221

An anonymous reader cites a study on Vox: One of the biggest public health wins of recent decades has been America's slow shift away from soda. But there's pretty good evidence that Americans are still getting hoodwinked by juices and other sugary beverages. Data from Euromonitor, which analyzed U.S. retail beverage sales over the past five years, shows that while the soda category is shrinking, juice sales have held steady, and sales of energy and sports drinks have been growing. An article in BMJ Open demonstrates the extent of the problem: The researchers looked at how much of the American diet is composed of ultra-processed foods and added sugars. They found that 58 percent of total energy intake -- more than half of the calories Americans consume! -- came from foods that are packed with lots of flavors, colors, and sweeteners. And almost 90 percent of the added sugars Americans consume came from heavily processed foods -- the two main sources being soft drinks (17 percent) closely followed by fruit drinks (14 percent). (In this case, 'fruit drinks' refers to processed juices with added sugars.)
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Fruit Drinks Aren't Much Better For You Than Soda: Study

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  • It's so easy to justify consuming almost anything, because there are thousands of web pages that say "that is good for you!" Coffee, chocolate, fruit juice, whatever. Some of these are, of course, created by the companies that sell these foods and drinks -- but I think most of it comes from the fact that everybody eats -- and while almost any other subject will only address a fraction of people, foods and drinks are obviously part of everybody's life. So, there's talk about food every day in the newspaper,

    • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Sunday March 27, 2016 @10:37AM (#51786907) Homepage Journal

      It's so easy to justify consuming almost anything, because there are thousands of web pages that say "that is good for you!"

      The old standby that almost everything we eat is 'good for you' in limited quantities. A pack of cards sized steak is good for you, a couple times a week. Same with fish, chicken, coffee, wine, etc...

      The problem is when you're having 24oz of soda with every meal.

      Personally, from what I've read fruit drinks are basically only lacking carbonation to be a 'soda'. Even fruit drinks aren't as good as, well, eating the fruit involved because there's lots of nutrients you're losing out on that was in the pulp of the fruit, and besides, the pulp has carbs and fiber that help you feel 'full', which the juice alone will shoot through your system and not satiate you.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Sure, sugar is sugar but...

        Just go into any American Supermarket and look at the ingredients of the things that you put in your basket.
        How many have lots of 'High Fructose Corn Syrup'?
        You don't need all that sugar. IT is used to mask the crap/cheap ingredients the food processors use.

        In some markets it is almost impossible to buy bread that does not contain the evil syrup. I bake my own bread and the amount of sugar (Honey) I add to it is tiny when compared to supermarket bread.
        I don't have any other sugar

      • I use fruit juice and seltzer water to replace soda in my diet. Less sugar, the seltzer water is cheaper than buying water. The mix is usually 60% juice.
        • I do something similar, except I just cut the soda pop with whisky so I'm not getting as much of it, but a 60% mix seems a bit high.
      • Re:Sugar is sugar... (Score:5, Informative)

        by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Sunday March 27, 2016 @11:27AM (#51787145) Homepage

        Even fruit drinks aren't as good as, well, eating the fruit involved because there's lots of nutrients you're losing out on that was in the pulp of the fruit, and besides, the pulp has carbs and fiber that help you feel 'full', which the juice alone will shoot through your system and not satiate you.

        Well also they're talking about fruit drinks, not fruit juice. Whenever you see something labelled "fruit drink", it should trigger alarm bells and the question, "why aren't they calling it juice?"

        Even things labelled "juice" sometimes have additives, including additional sugar. When it's labelled a "fruit drink", it means that they've doctored it so much and added so much sugar that they're not allowed to call it "juice" anymore. It's sort of like if you go to a mexican restaurant and the stuff they put in the tacos is referred to as something like, "beef-based taco filling." That should immediately make you question what that stuff is.

        • Yes, what you say is true. But even fruit juice is often not that great for you. In particular, things labeled 100% juice are frequently a blend of the sweetest possible juices (appl, grape, pear, etc) maybe combined with some amount of the main juice you think you're buying. For example, those "premium" juice blends sold in the refrigerated section if a grocery store may have kale and whatever juices, but they frequently are blended with the sweetest juices to make the "palatable.". You're just drinking
        • Well also they're talking about fruit drinks, not fruit juice. Whenever you see something labelled "fruit drink", it should trigger alarm bells and the question, "why aren't they calling it juice?"

          It holds true even for many fruit juices. Consider apple juice, at 14 calories per ounce, matches my 12 ounce root beer can. 168 calories for the juice, 170(mandatory FDA rounding) for the root beer. Now yes, it does have less sugar(36 vs 35). Orange Juice has the same number of calories - but less sugar still, and actually has some protein.

          I maintain that eating fruit is normally better than drinking just the juice.

      • by pjt33 ( 739471 )

        Even fruit drinks aren't as good as, well, eating the fruit involved because there's lots of nutrients you're losing out on that was in the pulp of the fruit, and besides, the pulp has carbs and fiber that help you feel 'full', which the juice alone will shoot through your system and not satiate you.

        Also, the time taken to digest the cell walls and release their contents delays and spreads out the release of the sugar from whole fruit, whereas with juice the sugar hits your bloodstream in one spike.

    • by sudon't ( 580652 )

      I think most of it comes from the fact that everybody eats -- and while almost any other subject will only address a fraction of people, foods and drinks are obviously part of everybody's life. So, there's talk about food every day in the newspaper, on the news cable channels...and now on Slashdot.

      Trust me, people weren't always so obsessed with food as medicine as they are today. Another thing I can tell you as an older person: These "studies" that refute previous common wisdom come and go with some regularity. First we hear that "food X" is bad for you. Later, that "food X" is good for you. Live long enough, and you'll see it go back and forth a few times. Just eat food, people. You'll be fine. Whether it's drugs, alcohol, soda pop, or whatever - moderation is the key.

  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Sunday March 27, 2016 @10:32AM (#51786889) Journal
    Fruit drinks are a bit deceptive if you're not a label reader, but even less well publicized is the fact that many fruit juices are nearly as bad for you when stripped of the fiber present naturally in the fruit itself.

    How you get too much sugar is basically irrelevant.

    • Lol, the fiber myth keeps rearing it's ugly head. Tell me how eating 1 apple is and better for you than eating 1 apple worth of apple juice. They both have exactly the same amount of sugar. Are you telling me that if I put 1 apple worth of fiber in my 1 apple worth of apple juice, it suddenly makes it healthy? Fiber which is an undigestible substance that has no nutritional value and somehow magically makes sugar more healthy.

      • Eating doesn't stop in the stomach, what happens after the stomach is likely very important i.e. absorbing the stuff.
        It's possible that nutrients like vitamins and stuff are easily more absorbed if there's fiber and stuff to slow them down, else your body could opportunistically absorb the sugar and let the rest go down the crapper. Although it should be very unlikely that you're deficient in vitamins (or proteins)

        Apple juice? I can't stop at one glass, if I have apple juice I'll likely drink half a liter :

      • As advanced as we imagine we are, new discoveries occur almost daily.

        Shades of betacarotene, there are new things added to our vitamins all the time.

      • Yes, for example if you take processed sugar and mix it with oat bran, that will cause less harm than if you just eat straight sugar.

        BTW, there are 2 types of fiber in food, and they are very different. A statement like "Fiber which is an undigestible substance that has no nutritional value" is complete idiocy. Fiber not only has nutritional value, it is necessary for good health.

        Read a little bit about how excess sugar consumption causes diabetes. You might discover that eating straight sugar all at once i

        • Yes, for example if you take processed sugar and mix it with oat bran, that will cause less harm than if you just eat straight sugar.

          BTW, there are 2 types of fiber in food, and they are very different. A statement like "Fiber which is an undigestible substance that has no nutritional value" is complete idiocy.

          Yes, there are soluble and insoluble forms of dietary fiber, both of which are indigestible. Care to try again?

          Fiber not only has nutritional value, it is necessary for good health.

          Read a little bit about how excess sugar consumption causes diabetes. You might discover that eating straight sugar all at once is much more harmful to your body than eating the same amount a little bit at a time mixed with fiber.

          OK genius. What is the nutritional value of 1 gram of soluble fiber, and 1 gram of insoluble fiber.

          • Go. Look. It. Up. And. Find. Out.

            I'll give you a hint, one isn't digested; the other is.

            Don't even use the word "genius," you are not even a functional reader. To prove you can read, don't write; go and read. Then, when you don't reply I'll know you actually read something about the subject.

            Since you didn't know how to google:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu... [nih.gov]
            http://www.mayoclinic.org/heal... [mayoclinic.org]

            You also seem confused about the word "nutrient" (in nutritional) so I'll also show y

            • So which of your links says that fiber is digestible? Sure, fiber has nutritional value for animals that are capable of digesting cellulose. So technically yes it has nutritional value when you eat it, and it still has the same nutritional value after you shit it out. All of those articles say that fiber "may" have all sorts of benefits. We highly subsidize agriculture in this country, so it's important to get consumers to eat lots of agricultural products that are bad for us. Most of these contain fib

              • So which of your links says that fiber is digestible?

                First link, first paragraph. Readers can read.

                • First paragraph says:

                  Dietary fiber or roughage is the indigestible portion of food derived from plants. It has two main components:

                  Yes. Readers can read.

                  • You can't read. Learn to read, then try again at writing. Did you check the link where it explained that it doesn't have to be digestible to be a nutrient, and to have nutritional value?

                    read words before writing replies

                    You're getting pedantic about something where you don't know the details, and the details don't support your position.

                    It literally lists fiber on the nutrient page I linked above. But you can't read, do you don't know that.

                    Futhermore, you ended your quote before the end of the paragraph. No

                    • First, I want you to quote me the passage that says that any type of dietary fiber is digestible. Then I would like to know the nutritional value of that fiber as digested I am going to be waiting for quite some time, because none of your links contain that information.

                    • And here is the quote from your Nutrient page:

                      Non-essential nutrients[edit]

                      Non-essential nutrients are substances within foods can still have a significant impact on health, whether beneficial or toxic. For example, most dietary fiber is not absorbed by the human digestive tract, but is important in maintaining the bulk of a bowel movement to avoid constipation.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      So, what drinks are good? Just water? :P

      • Drinking water has been the hydration choice of earthly life forms for some time now, but there are various and sundry studies which purport to prove the health benefits of tea, coffee, and wine.

        You simply cannot do everything right, because what's good for you seems to be an evolving position. Not surprisingly, what is healthy for you is not necessarily longevity promoting in everyone else.

        Centagenarians [mercola.com] most often report happiness as the common thread, so don't deny yourself a pleasurable treat once in

    • http://www.sgf.org/fileadmin/u... [sgf.org] As so often in medicine, "evidence" is brought forward for and against anything.
  • by Harold Halloway ( 1047486 ) on Sunday March 27, 2016 @10:34AM (#51786895)

    Only the Food Industry could make fruit unhealthy.

    • Fresh home-juiced fruit isn't much better.
      • Yes it is. While it still contains sugar the article is talking about ADDED sugar. So unless you fresh press your own juice and than add a teaspoon into every glass you drink fresh pressing your own juice is far healthier.

    • by Fruit ( 31966 )

      Only the Food Industry could make fruit unhealthy.

      :(

  • Nope (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Sugar is sugar is sugar. If you want fruit, eat an actual piece of fruit and get the benefits of the other raw and whole nutrients it contains. It's never a great idea to drink your calories.

    • by afgam28 ( 48611 )

      It's never a great idea to drink your calories.

      ...except maybe when you're actually exercising. A 24 oz bottle of Gatorade has 160 calories in it, which would only take 10-15 minutes to burn off while running or cycling.

      Overconsumption of sugar is a big problem, but there's also lack of exercise. We've structured our lives (and cities) in such a way that we don't have to lift a finger to do anything. The only way to exercise is to actively go out of your way to do it; people just can't burn off all that sugar in their day-to-day suburban lives.

      • Even then if you are exercising a lot you can simply eat big portions and fatty foods. Goes well with a typical diet that has too much starch/bread/pasta/rice/potato.

        Where I love the equivalent to your Gatorade is when you're ill, most notably with gastroenteritis. Can't eat anything. but the sugar, electrolytes and water == good, good, good!
        Perhaps it is especially stupid to be afraid of your food, and if your soda makes you feel better go for it. Daily intake and soda at the meal's table is where I think

        • if your soda makes you feel better go for it

          Yeah, heroin too; if it makes you feel better, it must be good!

          And if you're happy when you're drunk, then alcoholism is probably good for you.

    • Drinking it isn't the problem, it is all the peeling and extracting that is the problem.

      Put that same fruit into a blender and make a nice smoothie from the whole food, and then you can drink it with no change in healthiness.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Sunday March 27, 2016 @10:36AM (#51786905)
    Of course there's a lot of sugar in fruit drinks, that's the purpose of them.

    .
    This should not be a surprise to anyone who reads the nutrition label of what they are eating and drinking.

  • Follow the money, as every farmer knows there is more money in processing his perfectly good produce than he'll ever see for it.

    I have to watch out my sugar intake and investigated typical sugar content of several juices as I like them.
    The result is there is nearly as much sugar in a good (freshly pressed) apple or orange juice than there is in the same measure of soda.

    So I've moved to eating the whole fruit, it is just as or even more satisfying than drinking the juice because it fills you up and even
  • by cirby ( 2599 ) on Sunday March 27, 2016 @10:54AM (#51786975)

    Yeah, when you see a doom-and-gloom article like this one, and one of the phrases is "heavily processed" or the new catchphrase "ultra-processed," you can safely ignore it.

    "Heavily processed" is such a wide definition that it's effectively meaningless. Anything that contains extra sugar (in any amount), white flour (or any other refined grains), anything that has "artificial" coloring (even if the color comes from natural sources), refined oils (like soybean oil, which was a "health food" twenty years ago), or even low-fat foods (whether or not they're naturally low in fats).

    When you get right down to it, these sorts of articles are trying to get you worked up about processed foods - in other words, ANYTHING that comes in a package. "So buy our Cool New Healthy Food, at only three times the price!"

    Of course, the people who are worked up about processed foods are just the spiritual descendants of the people who used to tell you to switch to processed food because the older, natural foods were supposed to be bad for you. I remember when the health nuts told us to switch from butter to margarine because butter was bad - and now we know that margarine is immensely worse for cardiovascular health.

    • Why bitch about simple statements of facts? The study finds that 90% of added sugars come from so-called heavily or ultra processed foods, which is enormous and something sgnificant to know.
      Just stating it does not make it a conspiracy from Nanny State, advertisers and "health nuts" to talk you down as if you're a little child. I'll allow myself to tell you that's ridiculous.
      You're trying to fit facts around preconceived notions that they must come from that PETA bitch, the teacher assistants, the pale-skin

      • by cirby ( 2599 )

        Why bitch about simple statements of facts? The study finds that 90% of added sugars come from so-called heavily or ultra processed foods, which is enormous and something sgnificant to know.

        ...except that it becomes a circular definition.

        When you say that adding sugar MAKES it a "heavily processed" food, then the fact that 90% of added sugar comes from that food is a given.

        You cited one source for definitions for "heavily" and "ultra" processed food - but when you read other sources, you get different definitions. That's the problem - you don't get to pick one you sort of agree with and pretend that it covers everything else.

    • by doom ( 14564 )

      I was looking for some reason to assume that sugar is the great devil, but they just take that as a given, something that everyone is supposed to know.

      One thing that I know is that you should worry about exercise first-- but that's apparently too horrible a thought for most people to contemplate, they prefer to obsess about what they're shoving in their mouths.

      Worried about your health? Let your sugar intake ride, but cut down on gasoline.

  • Setting aside that whole juice vs. drink bit, which can only be used as a high level filter, processed foods have ingredient and nutrition labels. People should check them when they are buying a new product rather than depending upon manufacturer's claims.

    Also learn how to check the products next to it. Those cheap alternatives are often better for you than the expensive brands.

    • The only brand of shredded wheat that I can find that is "100% whole wheat" is also the cheapest store brand on the market. :)

      The only brand of stone ground horseradish mustard without added sugar, emulsifiers, or mystery ingredients like "natural flavor"... cheapest store brand.

      But then I have to pay double for the cheapest brand of ketchup that doesn't have corn syrup. Same for pickles without polysorbate 80.

      In the end, I think reading labels lets me buy only quality foods, and for about the same price as

  • IMO there's no need to qualify it with "aren't much better for you".
  • Water (Score:4, Insightful)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Sunday March 27, 2016 @11:06AM (#51787013)

    >"the two main sources being soft drinks (17 percent) closely followed by fruit drinks (14 percent). (In this case, 'fruit drinks' refers to processed juices with added sugars.)"

    It really doesn't matter much if the juice is 100% natural or a dilution with added sugars. It is still sugar without the rest of the fruit solids (which contains fiber, pectin, and other components). Drinking a glass of fruit juice is not a natural way to consume fruit... it is rapidly taking in a huge quantity of unregulated simple calories.

    Fruit juice is just mostly sugar water. If you want to be "healthy" and/or lose weight and/or prevent insulin spikes then drink water. Then, optionally eat a single serving of WHOLE fruit (like one apple or one peach or something) if you want fruit.

  • by lbalbalba ( 526209 ) on Sunday March 27, 2016 @11:10AM (#51787035)
    Slightly off-topic, but: even an home made freshly squeezed glass of fruit juice supposedly contains more sugar than is healthy for you. Think about it: on average, how much oranges would you need to squeeze for a single glass of juice ? Three or four oranges ? Might not seem like a lot, until you consider *eating* those same four oranges at once. The proclaimed result ? Eating a single orange is good for you, but taking in - the sugars of - four oranges is bad.
    • Also, eating an orange means you're getting quite a bit more fiber.
    • IMHO, this is perfectly on topic. Fructose is fine when eating whole fruits, because they are digested more slowly due to fiber and all that.
      • IMHO, this is perfectly on topic. Fructose is fine when eating whole fruits,

        So far so good, this is well established by research.

        because they are digested more slowly due to fiber and all that.

        But that part goes off the rails; they're still trying to figure out why. That is one hypothesis.

  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Sunday March 27, 2016 @11:20AM (#51787095)
    Humans typically starving and suffering malnutrition most of the time for over a hundred thousand years, and before that our ancestor species back more than a billion years. Our appetite craves the sugar and fat that helped humans stave off death. Now with cheap, abundant, and tasty foods everywhere through technological advances we have to deal with whole populations being over fed. People actually complain food is too easy to consume like processed and fast foods. Many poor people eat better than kings just 1000 years ago.

    I love it! There simply isn't a better time to be alive. Give me diabetes and obesity any day over dying at 12 from starvation. I, for one, am grateful to our new corpulent overlords.
  • by JoeDuncan ( 874519 ) on Sunday March 27, 2016 @11:43AM (#51787219)
    It's 2016! Who the hell didn't know this already?!?! WTF
  • What the FUCK is this doing on slashdot?

    -jcr

    • Please explain why this isn't suitable for Slashdot, other than the fact that you care so little about it that you felt obliged to tell us how little you care about it.

      • by jcr ( 53032 )

        Please explain why this isn't suitable for Slashdot,

        It's a standard consumer scare story. Does the phrase "stuff that matters" ring any bells with you?

        -jcr

  • by zenlessyank ( 748553 ) on Sunday March 27, 2016 @11:48AM (#51787253)
    I've been hearing this shit since I was a little kid in the 70's. This country has way too many assholes making a living by spreading FUD. NEWS FLASH- IF YOU OVERCONSUME, YOU MAY DIE. Just pick something. It doesn't matter what it is. Water, aspirin, Boones Farm, eggs, republicans, democrats, salt........... Someone please lock these bastards up and throw away the key.
  • so we shouldn't drink anything

  • Vacuum steel bottles and water.

    I have a one-liter hydroflask for the house and disc golf, and a 16-ounce Bubba with a barrel shape for the car (so as to fit the minuscule cupholder in my car)

    Bottle water is a racket. Don't feed the plastic monster

    As for soda.. completely kicked the habit after spending some time in a hospital. When I came back I found I couldn't stand the taste of any of them.. except for Boylan's Birch Beer. So I cut soda out cold turkey.

    Fruit drink? Rarely. An Izze here, a smoothie t

  • I can't drink that stuff, tastes like candy syrup! Pretty much the only thing I can stand to drink (apart from beer or coffee) is water or milk, or a slightly sweetened iced tea. I'll eat a fruit but I can't stand the candy drink.

  • I put exactly one drop of grapefruit oil in each glass of my home made IPA. I count that as juice.
  • ... yet labeled as juice is the normal. Many times I picked up bottles that call itself juice and then there are no vitamins listed under the nutritional info. How Minute Maid, for instance, manages to do that while using real fruit as an ingredient is beyond me.

    • I would guess that the processing destroyed most of the vitamins, and the amount varied too widely to even get a reliable minimum level, so they simply didn't list 'em.

  • Back in college, I tried to lose my soda habit for something healthier. Frozen concentrates were the best option, saving me from lugging bulky jugs of colored water home in my backpack. I tried "Mr. Pure Papaya Juice". Tasted like ass and made my tongue sting.

    Ingredients: no actual papaya at all, just grape and apple from concentrate and tons of HFCS.

    "Mr Pure", folks.

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