Alaska’s Play Every Day campaign shows that turning the drink around exposes the truth
Wonder what’s actually in that bottle, pouch, or box your kids are drinking?
It’s so hard to know by looking at the front label. Alaska’s Play Every Day campaign is sharing new messages to help families see beyond the hype on the drink’s front label to find the truth that’s often on the back. Its new short video recommends that families “Turn the Drink Around” to learn what’s actually inside it.
Turning around a drink or food to find the Nutrition Facts label can help you quickly spot lots of sugar that’s added to fruit drinks, powdered mixes, cereals, yogurt, snacks and so much more. Cutting back on added sugar matters. Over time, too much of it can increase your chances of serious and potentially long-lasting health problems that include cavities, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and unhealthy weight gain.
“The front label focuses on what companies want you to see about their products,” said Diane Peck, registered dietitian with Alaska’s Physical Activity and Nutrition program. “Fortunately, the Nutrition Facts and ingredient list must be truthful by law. By turning the package around, we can quickly check those facts and tell what’s really in, or not in, that food or drink.”
Ignore the front label of a drink. Look at the facts.
On the store shelf, you see only the front label that can be filled with buzzwords and misleading images:
Words like “Vitamin C” and “All Natural” can make the drink appear healthier than it is.
Drinks can be called “Organic” and still be loaded with added sugar.
Fruits may be pictured, but they aren’t actually in the drink at all.
Pick up a lemonade on the store shelf, and it says it’s made with real lemons. Look closer and the amount of actual lemon juice is low. It does have a ton of added sugar, though – about 14 teaspoons of sugar in a 17-ounce bottle of lemonade. Pick up a fruit punch that shows juicy cherries on the front label, but there are no cherries or cherry juice in it. Pick up a container of a sweetened, fruit-flavored powdered mix. Its front label says it has 100% of your daily Vitamin C needs, but the back says it also has almost 9 teaspoons of sugar in one serving.
Focus on the "Includes Added Sugars" Line
To find out what’s really in the drink, look for the facts on the Nutrition Facts label. It’s usually near a list of ingredients that can include sugar and many other names for sweeteners: high fructose corn syrup, honey, and more.
The Nutrition Facts label has a line in the “Total Carbohydrate” section that says “Includes Added Sugars.” This line tells you how many grams of added sugar that item has in a serving size. It helps you see how much of the sugar in a drink or food is added instead of naturally.
Natural sugars are those found naturally in a food or drink. That includes the natural sugar in plain milk (called lactose) and the natural sugar in whole fruits like apples and oranges (called fructose). Added sugar is the sugar that’s added to a food or drink when it’s produced. That includes the sugar that’s added to instant oatmeal, snack bars, yogurts, and even many drinks.
To cut back on added sugar, look for foods and drinks that have 0 grams listed on the “Includes Added Sugars” line. That’s the case for healthy drinks like plain milk and unsweetened plain or sparkling water.
Share these new free Play Every Day materials with schools, preschools, child care centers, doctors, dentists, and more to help families better understand what’s in the foods and drinks served to children.
Read the entire Play Every Day blog online.
PlayEveryDay is a campaign with the Alaska Department of Health to help Alaska children grow up at a healthy weight and encourage families to be physically active and choose healthy drinks. For more information, visit playeveryday.alaska.gov.
The Alaska Department of Health
Division of Public Health Immunization Program 3601 C Street, Suite 540 Anchorage AK 99503