Not sure what’s in that drink?


Get Out and Play. Every Day.

Not sure what’s in that drink?

Alaska’s Play Every Day campaign shows that turning the drink around exposes the truth

AUGUST 14, 2023 — Wonder what’s actually in that bottle, pouch or box your kids are drinking?


Ignore the hype on the front label. Look at the facts. The Nutrition facts label (arrow) for this sugary drink has 11 grams of added sugar (circled).

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 a 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.

Play Every Day is sharing new messages as videos, handouts and more to explain why sugary drinks can be so confusing. 


Shows pictures of fruits not even in the drink! Appears healthier than it is by advertising "all natural".


On the store shelf, you see only the front label that can be filled with buzz words 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 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 natural.


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, 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.