McDonald's 'healthy' fruit soft drink for children that contains 12 spoonfuls of sugar

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UPDATED:

09:41 GMT, 9 May 2012

McDonald's is to introduce a 'healthy' fizzy drink for children that promises one of their five-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables – yet is packed with sugar and calories.

The new drink, called Fruitizz, is part of the fast food giant's efforts to improve the health credentials of its children's meals.

It follows the introduction of carrot sticks, fruit bags, mineral water and organic semi-skimmed milk to its Happy Meal menu.

A new drink called Fruitizz, which is to be introduced by McDonald's for children that promises one of their five-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables

A new drink called Fruitizz, which is to be introduced by McDonald's for children that promises one of their five-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables

The 'fizzy treat' will be served from the central drinks tower at the counter, alongside other soft drink staples, as research had found children found this 'more exciting and desirable', according to the chain.

McDonald's said the drink contains no added sugars, artificial colours or flavours and blends 60 per cent fruit juice from grapes, apples and raspberries with natural sparkling water, giving one of the five-a-day portions.

But a large 500ml cup still contains 49 grams of sugar – while health bosses recommend youngsters have no more than 50 grams in a day. The drink also contains 200 calories.

Dietitian Christina Merryfield, of London’s Bupa Cromwell Hospital, told The Sun: 'A large cup of this drink has more sugar than a can of Fanta.

Despite containing 12 spoonfuls of sugar, Fruitizz is being marketed as a healthy drink for children

Despite containing 12 spoonfuls of sugar, Fruitizz is being marketed as a healthy drink for children

'Sugary drinks can encourage tooth
decay and erosion and lead to weight gain. Water is a much better option
and milk is great because it is full of calcium and other vitamins and
minerals.'

Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum
said: 'For a drink purporting to be healthy having this much sugar is
appalling. The danger to children is incredible.'

HOW THEY COMPARE

Soft drink Sugar per 500ml

Pepsi 60g
Dr Pepper 58.5g
Coca-Cola 56.5g
Sprite 56.5g
7-Up 53g
McDonald's Fruitizz 49g

McDonald's chief executive and
president Jill McDonald said: 'We are thrilled to be unveiling Fruitizz,
a refreshing fizzy fruit juice drink that will help parents give
children one of their five-a-day.

'For
the past three years, we have been working hard behind the scenes to
create a fizzy drink that is unlike anything else currently available in
high street restaurants.

'We tried and tested 80 formulations in order to create the right product that delivers nutritional benefit as well as a new, exciting taste.'

Children's Food Campaign spokesman Malcolm Clark said: 'It's encouraging to see companies like McDonald's making it easier for parents to make healthier choices for their children.

'The best news for children's health will be if fruit-based drinks start to displace sugary drinks such as Coca-Cola from children's menus in McDonald's.'

The drink will be available from May 16.

It was also recently revealed that a large strawberry milkshake sold by the fast food chain contains the equivalent of a staggering 16 cubes of sugar.

McDonald's has previously come under fire for offering a breakfast wrap that contains 595 calories – almost a third of the daily recommended amount. A Big Mac has 490 calories.

One wrap also contains almost half of a person’s daily allowance of fat and saturated fat and 2.3g of salt.

This is almost half the recommended salt limit of 6g a day for adults – and more than half a child’s allowance of 4g.