by Marion Nestle
Dec 6 2007

More calories from soft drinks

A new study from U. North Carolina measures soft drink consumption in the U.S. population from 1965 to 2002. The increase is 21%–and a whopping 222 calories per day, close to the reported increase in calorie intake from all sources over that time period. The authors count all sweetened drinks: traditional colas, juice drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and vitamin waters. All of these add calories (unless they are artificially sweetened, of course.

  • Why was unsweetened fruit juice excluded from the study? When I was a kid in the 70s, everybody had 4 oz. juice glasses. Now people routinely consume 20 oz. bottles of pure, 100% unsweetened fruit juice in one sitting.

    Fruit juice isn’t that different from Coke. 20 oz. of apple juice contains 291 calories and 68 g of sugars, of which 11 are glucose, 33 are fructose, and the remainder is sucrose, which breaks down evenly into glucose and fructose. (source: USDA). 20 oz. of Coke contains 243 calories and 67.5 g of carbs, which are sucrose and HFCS, which break down into roughly equal amounts of glucose and fructose. (source: Coca-Cola company web site). Juice or Coke, you are pouring more than 60 g of very rapidly absorbed carbohydrate down your throat.

    The apple juice does provide small amounts of minerals and B vitamins, but it provides little vitamin C unless it is fortified. And heck, Coke has already proved that they can fortify their products, too. And the grocery store contains many, many sources of B vitamins and minerals than apple juice – meat, fish, eggs, poultry, dairy products …

    Furthermore, nobody thinks that Coke is a health food, but lot of parents blithely give their kids apple juice thinking it’s good for them.

    Would somebody pass the water, please?

  • And guess what else? No one argues that a Twinkie is a processed industrial food product. But no one seems to think that commercially made juice is a “manufactured” or “processed” product. The marketers have done a very good job at pulling the wool over consumer’s eyes. The ad with the woman reaching into the supermarket cooler and the farmer in the orange grove on the other side handing her a half gallon of “fresh juice” is a good example. There’s a great description of orange juice processing here: . And I understand the orange remains are fed to confinement dairy cows. Appetizing, n’est pas?

    But I fail to see how any version of commercial juice could be classified as anything but a processed industrial product, no matter if it is labeled “fresh squeezed”, not from concentrate, or unpasteurized.