‘Healthy’ summer drinks worse than fast food

Health experts are warning that store-bought smoothies, frappes may contain a more kilojoules than a McDonald’s Big Mac and are extremely high in sugar.

A ‘LiveLighter‘ investigation analysed the kilojoules, sugar and fat in 40 cold drinks sold at six chain cafes and fast food outlets.

LiveLighter is a public health education campaign which encourages Victorians to lead healthier lives by changing what they eat and drink, and being more active. It is delivered by the Cancer Council Victoria and Heart Foundation, and is funded by the Victorian government.

It found:

  • Half of the 40 drinks surveyed (including three ‘healthy’ drinks) had more kilojoules than a McDonald’s Big Mac (2060kj)
  • 24 drinks contained 16 teaspoons of sugar – more than a regular 600ml bottle of soft drink
  • The seemingly healthy 98% fat-free Mango Fruit Fruzie from Gloria Jeans had the most sugar – a  whopping 31 teaspoons (123g)
  • Some shakes and iced-based frappes had up to 20.5g of saturated fat – almost twice as much as a Big Mac (10.7g saturated fat).

LiveLighter Victoria campaign manager Alison Ginn says some drinks which appeared healthy contained more sugar than the average adult needs in a whole day.

“Food outlets use phrases like 97% ‘fat free’ or ‘dairy free’ to make their smoothies and frappes sound healthy, but with up to 31 teaspoons of sugar and as many kilojoules as a Big Mac, these drinks can actually do more harm than good,” says Ginn.

“[WHO] recommends that added sugars make up no more than 5% of people’s daily energy intake, or 6 teaspoons per day, for the biggest health benefit. You would consume up to five times this amount from just one drink alone.

“Like with soft drinks and other sugary drinks, regular consumption of frappes and smoothies can contribute to weight gain and a build up of toxic fat around your organs, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.”

Heart Foundation Victoria Healthy Living manager Roni Beauchamp says in addition to being very high in sugar, most milkshakes, thick shakes and iced café drinks may be high in saturated fat.

“Our research found that on top of their high sugar content, milkshakes, thickshakes, iced coffees and frappes, which are laden with cream and/or ice cream, were also alarmingly high in saturated fat – some have more saturated fat than we should consume in an entire day,” says Beauchamp.

She says on average people should not consume more than 16gms of saturated fat in a day.

“For good health we should aim to limit saturated fats in our diet as they can raise cholesterol levels and put us at greater risk of heart disease. The average Australian should not have more than 16g saturated fat per day”.

Ginn says it is better to consume water instead or eat fruit. If people want to a smoothie or frappe, ask for skim milk, choose the smallest size drink. Or better still, people should make their own drinks so they know what’s in them.

For more tips, recipes and advice, people can visit the  LiveLighter website www.livelighter.com.au


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