Is McDonald’s Fruitizz Healthy or Calorie-Ridden?

Is Fruitizz a healthier alternative to Coke or Pepsi? Or is it the same-old same-old calorie-ridden drink that will make your kids fat?

Listening to the sales pitch of McDonald’s execs about Fruitizz would make you think that the world’s biggest fast food chain has finally found an answer to criticisms that it is promoting unhealthy eating. However, critics argue that Fruitizz actually contains 200 calories and 49 grams of sugar and that a large drink of the supposed healthy alternative “has more sugar than a can of Fanta”. According to The Sun, 45 grams is equivalent to 12 teaspoons of sugar so that’s really a lot, no? Can you imagine yourself putting 12 teaspoons of sugar in your cup of coffee or tea?

But what are the ingredients of Fruitizz anyway? McDonalds has not released a detailed list of ingredients for its supposedly “healthy” drink but news reports state that it is “a blend of apple, grape and raspberries topped with sparkling water”.

Sparkling water, eh? Is there an additional ingredient other than H2O that makes the add-on water sparkle?

Anyhoo, here’s what Jill McDonald, CEO of McDonald’s UK, is saying about the sugar and calorie content of Fruitizz (via The Mirror):

“The calories are down to the natural sugar in the fruit. They’re the same as a glass of fruit juice. Over the years, we’ve worked very hard to reduce sugar, salt and fat in our products. There’s 50% less salt, 31% less sugar and 21% less fat in today’s Happy Meal compared with 12 years ago.”

We’re not sure if a glass of natural fruit juice would have an equivalent of 12 teaspoons of sugar but Ms. McDonald does acknowledge they just made some baby steps:

But we have taken small steps to achieve it – you can’t change the taste of a popular product overnight. People wouldn’t accept it. But baby steps over a period of time allows the palette to adjust and accept less salt and sugar.

We still have the indulgent items but we have made changes to the menu to give customers a choice like wraps, salads, carrot sticks and fruit bags.

Most customers who come to McDonald’s want a burger and fries but they still want a choice and if you’re coming in a group and one of the party wants something different, the options are there.

It’s interesting to see how she’s kinda putting the blame on indulgent customers who “wouldn’t accept” healthy changes. She conveniently ignores the fact that people used to eat healthier food before McDonald’s propagated the fast-food culture and its unhealthy pink slime [check out Pink Slime in Your Hamburger]

As for the calorie content of Fruitizz, here’s what a company spokesman says about the matter: “It is very difficult to reduce the calorie content of fruit juice drinks without introducing artificial sweeteners. Just like all fruit juices, Fruitizz contains natural sugars that come from the fruit, which is why Fruitizz counts as one of your five a day.”

Anyhoo, let’s now check out what critics (via The Sun) are saying about McDonald’s Fruitizz, shall we?

Dietitian Christina Merryfield, of London’s Bupa Cromwell Hospital:

A large cup of this drink has more sugar than a can of Fanta. 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:

For a drink purporting to be healthy having this much sugar is appalling. The danger to children is incredible.

Not all are as critical though as Merryfield and Fry. In fact, Malcolm Clark of the Children’s Food Campaign says he is encouraged by McDonald’s attempt to go the “health” route:

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.

Do you think McDonald’s is going to be successful in its attempt to re-brand itself as a healthy dining destination?

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