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Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine - Barts and The London

Parents Being Misled into Buying So Called ‘Fruit Snacks’ Not Permitted in Schools


  • 85% of processed fruit snacks contain more sugars per 100g than sweets e.g. Haribo Starmix
  • These snacks are a completely unnecessary source of sugars and calories, contributing to tooth decay, obesity and type 2 diabetes and should NOT form part of a child’s 5 A Day
  • New government urged to set sugar reduction targets immediately



NEW research by Action on Sugar has revealed huge amount of hidden sugars in seemingly ‘healthy’ fruit snacks aimed at children, over THREE QUARTERS (85%) of products surveyed (i.e. 80 of the 94 products) contain more sugars than Haribo Starmix (47g/100g) confectionary per 100g  – with some containing over 4 teaspoons per portion!

Furthermore, out of all the products surveyed, nearly all (99%) would receive a ‘red’ colour coded warning on the label for HIGH sugars per 100g.
In addition, grossly misleading packaging claims state these fruit snacks can contribute to ‘1 of your 5’ portions of fruit and vegetables a day. However, the new school food standards do not permit schools to offer children these products because they are categorised as ‘confectionary’. Therefore food manufacturers must adhere to the same standards to protect our children’s health.

 Fruit snacks table2

Katharine Jenner, campaign director at Action on Sugar says: “Parents find it hard enough to know what is ‘healthy’ without food manufacturers confusing matters with misleading claims. Whole, unprocessed fruit is healthier than processed fruit snacks and fruit juice drinks, as it contains vitamins, minerals, water and fibre, and does not cause the devastating tooth decay we see in young children today.”
Kawther Hashem, nutritionist at Action on Sugar says: “It’s high time food manufacturers stop adding unnecessary sugars and calories to already sweet products. Check the label and if in doubt - eat fresh fruit. Ready sliced fruit in snack pots are better than processed fruit snacks.

“To eat the same number of grams of sugars in a processed fruit snack (18g) your child will have to eat about 240g of strawberries – that’s equivalent to a whole punnet!”
With a third of girls (34%) and boys (33%) aged 11-15 years considered overweight or obese, and tooth decay currently affecting 27.9% of 5 year olds, Action on Sugar is also urging parents to provide children with fresh fruit and vegetables as snacks, instead of the sugar-laden processed fruit snacks.

Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of Action on Sugar, says: “The new Conservative government has a tremendous opportunity to take control of public health and reduce the huge burden on the NHS caused by the pandemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes, linked to high sugar intakes. This survey illustrates the fact that the food industry is the cause of this pandemic, by taking something as natural as fruit and ruining it by adding sugar.
“The new Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, must set sugar reduction targets across the whole of the food industry to gradually reduce the amount of sugar they add to our food. If the food industry does not respond then punitive taxes on these unhealthy products need to be imposed.”

Aubrey Sheiham, Emeritus Professor of Dental Public Health at University College London, says: “Fruit snacks with these unacceptably high levels of hidden sugars are very likely to cause decay in the hardest tissue in the human body - the teeth. Tooth decay is the most common cause of pain in children and the main reason why children are admitted to hospital. The worldwide epidemic of tooth decay will only be controlled when manufacturers markedly reduce the levels of sugars in their products.”

Please follow this link for Children's Fruit Snacks Survey 2015 data [PDF 244KB]