It seems that every time I go to the grocery store I see more products proudly announcing that they have “no sugar added”. Typically these claims are seen on juice and other products that contain a high sugar content.
As Yoni Freedhoff has pointed out in the past (emphasis mine):
[These claims are] there to make you feel that the product inside the box is a healthy one.
A quick peek at the back of the box is probably in order.
Take Mott’s Fruitsations Unsweetened Strawberry Fruit Rockets for instance. Reading the ingredients you’ll find that they include both, “Concentrated Strawberry Puree“, and, “Concentrated Fruit Juices“.
And what are concentrated purees and juices?
Sugar. Plain old sugar.
I know that some people will say that sugar in juice is different from table sugar or high fructose corn syrup because it is “natural”. I disagree. But let’s say that we accept that the sugars found in juice are somehow “better” than added sugars, and that “no sugar added” is a term that has value. What then to make of the below picture, courtesy of freelance science writer David Despain:
— David Despain (@daviddespain) July 12, 2014
Sugar cane juice. It meets all the same criteria as orange juice. There’s no added sugar. It’s “natural”. But would anyone really make the argument that sugar cane juice is “healthy” as opposed to an occasional treat? By the way, a cup of sugar cane juice has less calories than a cup of orange juice.
As I’ve said before, I’m not against juice. I really like juice. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to pretend that those calories somehow don’t count.