Food and Behaviour Research

Donate Log In

16 November 2018 - Nutrition Insight - Sugar crash? Alarming levels of sugar in milkshakes, UK lobby group says

Kristiana Lalou

Sugary shakes

Milkshakes with “alarmingly high” levels of sugar are being sold across UK high street restaurants and fast food chains, according to a survey by UK lobby group Action on Sugar.

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

More articles about the sugar industry here.

Milkshakes with “alarmingly high” levels of sugar are being sold across UK high street restaurants and fast food chains, according to a survey by UK lobby group Action on Sugar. In the context of its third Sugar Awareness Week, held this week, Action on Sugar is calling for mandatory traffic light colored nutrition labeling across all menus, while the UK government is consulting on menu calorie labeling. Furthermore, the group is calling for a ban on the sale of milkshakes that exceed a calorie limit of 300 kcal per serving.

The levels of sugar in milkshakes sold across the UK contain “grotesque levels of sugar and calories,” according to the lobby group. Some of them had up to 39 teaspoons of sugar, which is over six times the recommended daily amount of sugar for children aged seven to 10 years old. Other milkshakes were found to contain over half the daily recommended amount of calories for adults. 

Toby Carvery’s Unicorn Freakshake came out on top of the list of milkshakes that were deemed to be high in sugar, with 39 teaspoons of sugar, followed by Five Guys’ Banana and Chocolate Shake with 37 teaspoons of sugar.

“When it comes to hidden calories, Public Health England’s sugar reduction targets include a cap on milkshake products likely to be consumed in a single occasion to 300 calories. However, a milkshake such as Toby Carvery Unicorn Freakshake, at 1280 kcal per serving, is more than half the daily-recommended amount of calories for an adult and four times PHE’s proposed calorie limit. An average 25-year-old would need to jog for nearly three hours to burn off the calories,” says Action on Sugar. 

NutritionInsight has reached out to all restaurants and chains mentioned in the survey. 

In response to the Action on Sugar survey, a Toby Carvery spokesperson tells NutritionInsight: “Freakshakes only feature on our main menu and are not targeted at children. We share our nutritional information online for guests to access and we are very mindful of our role in helping guests’ make informed decisions about what they eat and drink while dining with us. We also regularly work with our suppliers to explore ways we can reduce sugar levels in our dishes and have also committed to the Public Health England Sugar Reduction Programme.” 

Still, the lobby group insists “We will continue to campaign for a robust reformulation programme in the UK enforced by the government. If progress isn’t made then the sugary drinks industry levy should be extended to other categories of food and drink. This measure successfully encouraged reformulation on a large scale and removed tonnes of sugar from UK diets.”