Objectives: The French dietary guidelines published in 2001 recommend daily consumption of 5 portions of fruit or vegetable. Despite this advice, the consumption of fruit in France, especially in the north of France, is low, whereas sale of 100% fruit juices, fruit drinks, and fruit-flavored beverages is increasing. The impact of contemporary changes in beverage patterns on dental caries has received less attention than the impact on childhood obesity. Nevertheless, the cariogenic potential of soft drinks is known. Drinking fruit juices, fruit drinks, or fruit-flavored beverages over a long period of time and continuous sipping could therefore be harmful for the teeth. The aim of this study was to examine the sugar content of such beverages.
Methodology: Four different major supermarkets were visited to select a representative sample of beverages for sale. Fruit juices, nectars, fruit drinks (water and fruit juices) and fruit-flavored waters were included. Lemonades, teas, and drinks containing artificial sweetener were not included. The data were collected in April 2010 by reading nutrition labels. The variables studied were the sugar content (g/100mL), the presence of added sugar, and the percentage of fruit juices. A descriptive analysis of the variables studied was conducted. The mean sugar content of the French population's favorite juices (orange, grapefruit, pineapple, apple, and grape) was compared to the sugar content of a corresponding 100-g portion of fresh fruit. The data were processed using Microsoft Excel.
Results: Hundred and eighty-seven different beverages were analyzed: 89 fruit juices, 26 nectars, 51 fruit drinks (sparkling or flat), and 21 fruit-flavored waters. Unlike fruit-flavored waters, nectars and fruit drinks contained fruit juices. Nectars and fruit drinks contained an average of 44.5% (± 10.7%) and 10.5% (± 3.8%) fruit juice, respectively. The sugar content varied from 0 g/100mL to 17.5 g/100mL. The average sugar content was 2.4 (± 2.1) g/100mL, 8.8 (± 2.3) g/100mL, 10.7 (± 1.9) g/100mL, and 10.8 (± 1) g/100mL for fruit-flavored waters, fruit drinks, fruit juices, and nectars, respectively. High sugar content was reported for grape juice, with an average of 15.6 (± 1.9) g/100mL. Nectars, fruit drinks, and 71.4% of fruit-flavored waters contained added sugar.
Conclusion: These beverages are rich in sugar and labels should better inform consumers on the sugar content. Dental caries is a chronic disease of childhood, which has common risk factors with obesity. General practitioners, dieticians, and dentists must work together to provide preventive guidance: fruit juice intake has to be limited and other beverages restricted to occasional use; fruit juice may contribute to only one portion of the recommended five a day.
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