With claims such as "100% juice," "lower sugar," "no sugar added," and "with vegetables," buying a kids' juice box or pouch isn't child's play. We recently chose 10 popular drinks, checked their nutrition facts, and asked 35 children ages 6 to 17 for their preferences after blind taste-tests. (See our fruit juice drink Ratings, available to subscribers.)
What we found. All products aren't the same. The amount of actual juice ranged from less than 10 percent to 100 percent; calories from fewer than 50 to more than 100; and sugar content from about 10 grams to 25. About those "100% juice" claims: Although the tested products with that label don't have added sugars, all are higher in calories and sugar than those with lower juice percentages. (See One in five children have risk factors for heart disease.)
As for taste, Capri Sun Original Fruit Punch, with 10 percent juice, was rated highest: 79 percent of the kids said they'd drink it again. At 30 cents per pouch, it's also among the cheapest, and it has just 60 calories. The Ratings (available to subscribers) list all the tested options. Our children's panel was least enthused about Vruit Orange Veggie Blend, a "blend of 100% pure fruit and vegetable juices" with a carrot/veggie flavor.
Did you know? The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests limiting fruit juice to 4 to 6 ounces per day for kids 1 to 6 years old and 8 to 12 ounces for older children. That could help kids avoid calories and cavities. (See Extra phys ed equals fitter, leaner kids.)