Campaigners have called for a ban on “freakshakes” and all milkshakes with more than 300 calories after discovering some contain more sugar than an adult’s recommended maximum daily intake.
The NHS currently advises adults have no more than 30g of free sugars each day. Free sugars are the sugars added to food or drinks, and sugars found naturally in honey, syrups, and unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies and purées.
Research by Action on Sugar, however, found some milkshakes at high street chain restaurants contain as many as 156g of sugar per drink.
Family restaurant Toby Carvery was ranked as the most “shocking shake” – its ‘Unicorn Freakshake’ contains an alarming 39 teaspoons of sugar, or more than six times the recommended daily amount for a 7 to 10-year-old.
The next worst offender was Five Guys Banana and Chocolate Shake with 37 teaspoons of sugar - the equivalent of drinking over four cans of cola.
Action on Sugar is now calling for mandatory traffic light coloured nutrition labelling across all menus, while the UK government is consulting on menu calorie labelling. Currently, some restaurants and fast food chains only display their nutritional information online
Additionally, the group of leading experts is calling for a ban on the sale of milkshakes that exceed a calorie limit of 300 kcal per serving. This goes further than Public Health England’s ambition to achieve a 10% reduction in sugar by mid-2019 and a further 10% by mid-2021 to meet the 20% overall target.
The worst offending shakes based on sugar content per serving sold in high street restaurants and fast food chains are:
1. Toby Carvery Unicorn Freakshake -156g sugar (39 teaspoons), 1280 cal
2. Five Guys Milk Shake Base + Banana + Chocolate - 149g sugar (37 teaspoons), 1073 cal
3. Five Guys Milk Shake Base + Cherry - 120g sugar (30 teaspoons), 975 cal
4. Pizza Hut Salted Caramel Ice Cream Shake - 95.4g sugar (24 teaspoons), 738 cal
5. Harvester Cookie Monster Freakshake - 95g sugar (24 teaspoons), 1067 cal
6. Toby Carvery Cookie & Chocolate Freakshake - 94g sugar (24 teaspoons), 961cal
Action on Sugar also investigated the sugar and calorie levels in milkshakes sold by supermarkets and found that 90% of the 41 products surveyed would receive a ‘red’ (high) label for excessive levels of sugars per serving as sold.
The worst offending shakes based on sugars content per serving sold in supermarkets are:
1. Muller Milk Frijj Chocolate Flavour 400ml - 42.8g sugar (11 teaspoons)
2. Muller Milk Frijj Fudge Brownie Flavour 400ml - 42.8g sugar (11 teaspoons)
3. Muller Milk Frijj Cookie Dough Flavour 400ml - 41.6g sugar (10 teaspoons)
Commenting on the findings, registered nutritionist Kawther Hashem, researcher at Action on Sugar based at Queen Mary University of London said: “Undoubtedly some of these milkshakes contribute to excess sugar and calorie intake, and it is shocking this information is hidden from the consumer, who would struggle to find it. It is time the government introduced legislation to force companies to be more transparent about what is in their products by displaying clear nutrition information online and in the outlets, at all times.”
Holly Gabriel, nutrition campaigner at Action on Sugar, added: “It is unnecessary and unacceptable to sell milkshakes with over half an adult’s daily calorie needs in a single serving. There should be a limit of 300kcal per serving on these drinks. If you choose to eat out in a restaurant or cafe, you could unknowingly be consuming up to four times the amount of sugar and calories compared to a similar product from a supermarket, which demonstrates how easy it is to reduce sugar and calories.”