The American College of Emergency Physicians is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to require juice drinks to be labeled as such.
“I think it’s a good thing that [farthers] can drink it with milk, with juice, with yogurt, with something that has a low glycemic index,” said Dr. Scott Weingarten, the group’s director of public health.
“There are some people who are more sensitive to the sugar that they’re drinking and so we’d want to make sure that the product is labeled with that.”
While the label would be helpful for those who are not able to drink plain juice, it would be especially important for people who can’t swallow it whole.
“A lot of our students, who have severe allergies, have some difficulty swallowing a whole juice, so a label on the container that says, ‘Low glycemic, sweetened with fruit juice,’ could be helpful,” Weingart said.
“If you can swallow a little bit of that, you may be able to swallow a lot of that.”
Weingart noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics supports the use of fruit juice as part of a balanced diet.
But, he said, fruit juice should not be considered a replacement for milk.
“Fruit juices should not replace whole milk,” Weinart said, adding that he was unsure of how a label could be added to the container of a juice product, since most juice is made from fruit and milk.
Instead, Weingast said he would like to see a warning label that could be applied to fruit juices.
“One of the reasons why I think it is important to educate consumers is because there are so many myths about the role of fruit and dairy products,” he said.
“People who have allergies to fruits, especially fruits and dairy, are more likely to get anaphylactic reactions.
So it is better to provide a clear and concise warning that says: ‘These products may contain a potentially dangerous amount of sugar.'”
Dr. Weingerten added that fruit juice is often considered to be a “superfood” and is an alternative to milk.
While some researchers have found that fruit juices have fewer calories than milk, Dr. Weinerten said that the evidence does not prove that they are as nutritious as whole milk.
Dr. Scott Seager, a nutrition professor at the University of Minnesota, agrees with the recommendation.
“The evidence is pretty clear that fruit and vegetable juice is not as nutrient dense as whole-milk milk, so if people were really concerned about their health, they’d drink more fruit juice,” Seager said.
According to a study published last year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, fruit juices contain about 0.4 grams of carbohydrates per 100 milliliters.
“It’s not a lot,” Seagers said.
If consumers are concerned about the sugar content of juice, “the sugar is a lot more of a factor in terms of what they’re consuming.”
For Seager and others, the bottom line is that the sugar in juice is “very low,” and therefore, fruit is not an ideal substitute for whole milk or milk products.
“There’s no reason that people shouldn’t be able [to drink it],” Seager added.