They are a seemingly healthy and refreshing choice on a hot summers day.
But iced drinks sold by popular high street chains contain a staggering amount of sugar – some the equivalent of nine Krispy Kreme doughnuts or four Magnum ice creams.
In fact, a cold can of Coca Cola would be a better option every time, as it contains less sugar than 10 of the most popular summertime drinks.
The MailOnline investigation compared the nutritional information of different fruity iced drinks and frappuccinos on sale at Burger King, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Caffe Nero and Costa Coffee.
Popular high street chains are selling iced drinks which contain a staggering amount of sugar. Burger King’s Cherry Berry Frozen Lemonade (left) has 22 teaspoons of sugar – the equivalent of 17 milk chocolate digestives. Costa Coffee’s Raspberry White Chocolate Creamy Cooler (right) contains 17 teaspoons
A regular portion of Burger King’s Cherry Berry Frozen Lemonade has the equivalent content to that of nine Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnuts (pictured) or four Magnum ice lollies
And it revealed fast food giant Burger King was the worst offender – occupying two of the top three spots.
Diets high in sugar can increase a person’s risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.
And there’s also the more obvious risk of obesity because sugar encourages the body to store extra calories as fat.
Sugar causes a rise in blood sugar levels, which triggers a spike in insulin – the hormone which clears glucose from the blood.
But insulin is a storage hormone, encouraging extra calories to be laid down in the body as fat.
All of the options in our top 10 – rated on sugar content – contain more sugar than the World Health Organisation’s recommended limit.
The current guidelines suggest men should consume no more than 35g (nine teaspoons) of sugar a day, while women should stick to a maximum of 25g (six teaspoons).
Burger King’s Tropical Mango Smoothie (left) contains 17 teaspoons of sugar – the equivalent of seven doughnuts, while a Blackberry Raspberry Fruit Cooler from Costa (right) has 14 teaspoons
A leading expert today said consumers need to be more aware about the exact contents of their refreshing drinks – and how damaging they can be.
Helen Bond, State Registered Dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, said these products should be considered an occasional indulgence rather than a daily thirst quencher.
She told MailOnline: ‘These drinks are full of what we call “liquid calories”, which are potentially damaging for our waistlines.
‘Because many of these drinks tend to be low in nutrients and fibre, they don’t promote feelings of fullness.’
And because few people realise how calorific these drinks are, they don’t cut back on calories later in the day to make up for it.
‘As a result, we need to think about minimising our liquid calorie intake each day,’ Mrs Bond added.
‘It’s important to treat yourself, but it’s also very important to be aware of exactly what’s in the drinks you enjoy each day.’
Top of the table of shame in MailOnline’s investigation came Burger King’s Cherry Berry Frozen Lemonade which contains 22 teaspoons of sugar.
And that’s only for a regular sized helping – the larger version contains a mind-blowing 26 teaspoons.
A regular portion has the equivalent content to that of nine Krispy Kreme doughnuts, 17 milk chocolate digestives or four Magnum ice lollies – unsurprising given its ingredients are based solely around sugary syrups.
Other key findings were:
*Costa Coffee’s Raspberry White Chocolate Creamy Cooler and Burger King’s Tropical Mango Smoothie contain 17 teaspoons of sugar – the equivalent of two cans of Coke or seven doughnuts.
*McDonald’s Mango Pineapple Iced Fruit Smoothie contains 10 teaspoons – the same as almost four portions of Kellogg’s Frosties cereal.
*A Blackberry Raspberry Fruit Cooler from Costa has 14 teaspoons of sugar – the equivalent of two Mars Bars.
*Caffe Nero’s Raspberry Orange Fruit Booster also has 14 teaspoons of sugar, while the Mango Passionfruit alternative has one less.
*A Strawberries Cream Frappuccino with semi-skimmed milk from Starbucks adds 13 teaspoons of sugar to someone’s daily intake.
*The ‘best’ options on the list are either a Raspberry Blackberry or Mango Passionfruit Frappuccino – both from Starbucks. They have 9 teaspoons of sugar – the same as more than seven chocolate digestives.
A Strawberries Cream Frappuccino with semi-skimmed milk from Starbucks (left) contains 13 teaspoons of sugar, while a Raspberry Orange Fruit Booster from Caffe Nero (right) has 14 teaspoons
Our investigation also discovered drinks made from skimmed milk appeared to contain more sugar than their full-fat counterparts.
Sugar content in different varieties of milk is similar, but whole milk does have the least amount per 100g.
However, the sugar in milk – lactose – is the least damaging in terms of tooth decay.
DON’T DRINK YOUR CALORIES
Helen Bond, State Registered Dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association says ‘don’t drink your calories’.
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), a group of eminent scientists, who advise the government, has recommended that free sugars – added sugar, as well as natural sugar you get in fruit juice, syrups or honey – should be no more than 5% of the calories in our diet.
This translates to around 7 teaspoons or 30g a day for adults.
You’ll have to become a ‘sugar detective’, as you’re not currently able to pinpoint free sugars on food labels – only total sugars – that also includes sugars naturally found in whole, unjuiced fruit and the milk sugar lactose found in milk and dairy products.
If you want flavour, add a squeeze of lemon or lime and a spring of mint – or get into diet or sugar-free drinks, which add taste, without all the sugar.
Mrs Bond also said most food labels don’t differentiate between added sugar and those that are naturally occuring – making it hard for people to work out how much they are having each day.
She added: ‘Some of the sugars in these drinks will not just be the “free sugars” – the unhealthy added type we should be cutting down on.
‘Some of them will be coming from yogurt/ milk and their naturally occurring sugar – lactose.’
The most recent national diet and nutrition survey revealed the average adult consumes 59g free sugars a day, which means that many of us need to halve the amount we eat.
‘It is easy to see how our free sugars intake tot up,’ said Mrs Bond.
‘And when you consider each teaspoon of sugar bears 20 calories, it’s east to see how these empty calories can add up, for little nutritional gain – other than energy and hydration.’
A McDonald’s spokesperson said: ‘We are always working on our menu to reformulate our recipes and increase choice, to enable our customers to make informed decisions about their order.
‘We are committed to evolving our recipes and sugar reduction is a part of this evolution. Compared to 2007 our menu now contains 377 tonnes less sugar.
‘Frappes and smoothies are not available with a Happy Meal, are never marketed to children and are charged at a premium if added to an adult’s meal.’
McDonalds Mango Pineapple Iced Fruit Smoothie (left) contains 10 teaspoons – almost four portions of Kellogg’s Frosties cereal. Raspberry Blackberry Frappuccinos from Starbucks have 9 teaspoons
A Starbucks spokesperson said: ‘Earlier this year we committed to reduce added sugar in our indulgent drinks by 25 per cent by the end of 2020, and we have already reduced sugar in our most popular syrups by 5 per cent.
‘We have a variety of ways that our customers can customise their drinks and offer a wide variety of lighter options, sugar-free syrups and sugar-free natural sweetener.
A Mango Passionfruit Frappuccino from Starbucks contains 9 teaspoons of sugar – the same as more than seven chocolate digestives
‘Our menu offers a variety of drinks such as new fruit smoothies that count towards one of your five a day and this summer, we have also brought Teavana to all UK stores, offering a selection of ice teas that contain zero calories and zero sugar.
‘We display all nutritional information in-store and online and encourage customers to speak to our baristas if they have any questions.’
A spokesperson for Caffe Nero said: ‘Of the two drinks highlighted, the Mango and Passionfruit has no added sugars. All of the sugars in the drink are from naturally occurring fruit sugars.
‘The Raspberry and Orange Iced Drink will shortly be delisted when it will be replaced with a new Iced Drink which also has no added sugar in the drink.’
A spokesperson for Costa Coffee said: ‘While water remains our second biggest cold seller, we are also committed to reducing the added sugar in our own handcrafted drinks by 25 per cent by 2020.
‘We have already made significant progress with fruit coolers now containing 30 per cent less added sugar than they did in 2014.
‘We’ve removed the option of serving Massimo Creamy Coolers and we’ve introduced our new fresh fruit SuperDay Smoothies which are under 120 calories and one of your five a day.
At the time of publishing, Burger King had not responded to MailOnline’s enquiry.