Among the few areas of agreement when it comes to identifying the causes of weight gain in the United States is the role of fruit juice as a contributor to childhood obesity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture currently is advising parents to limit juice intake to 4 to 6 ounces per day, citing evidence that children who consume more than 12 ounces were at higher risk to be overweight and short in stature.
The issue of juice comes to mind amid the current debate over whether added sugars should be incorporated into the Nutrient Facts Panel on foods and beverages. Parents are attracted to juice as a way to provide their children with fruit as a product without added sugars.
Juice, though, often is laden with natural sugars, and the body makes no distinction between natural and added when it comes to synthesizing calories. A 12-oz serving of apple juice contains 170 calories.
Compare that to a 12-oz can of Coke with 140 calories (nearly all from sugar in both products), and it is easy to see how unlimited access to juice could be problematic.
The U.S.D.A. currently wants to survey consumers over whether listing added sugars in addition to total sugars on the Nutrition Facts Panel would be helpful. The baking industry is right in discouraging regulators from going down that path.