Average Energy Drink Contains More Sugar Than An Adult's Recommended Daily Allowance

Sorry, what? 😳

It might be stating the obvious to say that energy drinks contain a lot of sugar, but when you realise quite how much it might encourage you to kick the habit once and for all.

A new report has revealed the average sugar content of energy drinks is more than an adult’s maximum daily recommendation for sugar intake.

To put that in perspective, the NHS recommends that adults should have no more than 30g of free sugars a day - or seven sugar cubes. So the findings are concerning to say the least.

The research, conducted by Action on Sugar and published in the BMJ Open, analysed the nutritional content of a variety of energy drinks, including products from Relentless, Monster and some own brand supermarket offerings.

OcusFocus via Getty Images

While the report found a 10% reduction in sugar and a 6% reduction in calorie content per 100ml between 2015 and 2017, Action on Sugar said the sugar, calorie and caffeine content remain at concerning levels.

Researchers say the improved results may indicate manufacturers have started to reformulate before the implementation of the Soft Drinks Levy, which comes into effect in April 2018.

In addition, the study reveals the number of such energy products (per serving) available on the market has fallen from 90 to 59 between 2015 and 2017. Although serving size was significantly larger in branded versus supermarket own label products in 2015 and 2017, and as a result, the branded products contained on average higher levels of sugar compared with supermarket products.

The report revealed 59% of products in 2015 and 54% in 2017 exceeded the maximum UK’s recommendation for sugar intake per serving for an adult (30g/day). But when it comes to children the results are even more alarming with 86% in 2015 and 78% in 2017 of products exceeding the maximum daily recommendation for sugar intake for a child aged 7–10 years (24 g/day).

The study concludes that to reduce the harmful impact of energy drinks, further reductions in sugar, calorie and caffeine are urgently needed.

Authors add measures such as a ban on the sale of energy drinks to children, which was previously called for by Action on Sugar, and now supported by Jamie Oliver, and school teachers, should also be implemented.

Registered Nutritionist Kawther Hashem, co-author of the BMJ Open study and researcher for Action on Sugar at Queen Mary University of London, says: “Whilst it’s encouraging to see that some energy drinks manufacturers have reduced sugar in advance of the levy next spring, the huge can and bottle sizes (500ml) means youngsters are still consuming far too much unnecessary sugar and caffeine.

“It’s clear that further reductions in both sugar and caffeine are urgently needed, and that they should get rid of large serving sizes – action must be taken now without further delay.”

Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, Chairman of Action on Sugar and co-author of the BMJ Open study, says: “This study illustrates the huge contribution of energy drinks to sugar intake, which is linked to the development of obesity and various types of cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes and rotting our children’s teeth.

“They are completely inappropriate for children to consume, form no part of a healthy balanced diet, and should be banned for under 16s.”