Sugar overload in shop smoothies

THE phrase 'drink in moderation' no longer applies only to alcoholic and energy drinks.

Health drinks, such as smoothies and frozen yoghurts, have now been added to the list after being identified as having "hidden sugars".

A study by consumer advocate Choice analysed 95 drinks sold from popular outlets such as Boost Juice.

Although the fruit smoothies and frappes were marketed as a healthy alternative to soft drinks, 81 drinks were found to be high in sugar.

With a list of ingredients that included concentrated fruit purée, artificial flavouring and high-fructose glucose syrup, some drinks contained up to 31 teaspoons of sugar.

Thirteen of the drinks reviewed were more than 1900 kilojoules, or 454 calories - about three times the amount dieticians recommend for a snack.

But dietician Kerry Leech argued those types of beverages should not be called 'drinks' at all.

Instead Ms Leech, who works at Jindalee's Eat Smart Nutrition Consultants, said fruit smoothies should be regarded more like meals.

"Smoothies are not a drink that you would use to quench your thirst," she said.

"They should be considered a liquid meal with the quality of the liquid meal based on its ingredients."

Ms Leech said the study by Choice showed some smoothies were high in energy with much of that energy from sugar without the balance of other nutrients.

"If you are reaching for a drink, you would be better starting with water or if you would like a flavoured drink, vegetable juice," she said.

"But if you are looking for a liquid meal, try a smoothie that includes low fat milk, or soy milk, fruit, yoghurt with the addition of a source fibre."

Ms Leech said the recommendation for servings of fruit was two per day.

"Smoothies generally use the whole fruit, not just the juice and can be an option for obtaining fruit intake," she said.

"But many people who are trying to make healthier choices will feel greater satisfaction if they eat a piece of fruit rather than drinking it."

Boost CEO Scott Meneilly said he was aware of the Choice report which reviewed the selection of smoothies from various retailers.

"The team keeps up-to-date with current research, trends and reports such as this one and in addition, we continually critique ourselves to find ways to improve and innovate," he said.

Mr Meneilly said a smoothie should be considered for its nutritional content as part of a person's daily intake.

"For that reason, Boost has a raft of options for our customers - from low KJ, low fat options, to high energy purpose built smoothies," he said.

"We encourage our customers to choose what is right for them and make educated decisions by referring to the nutritional information we provide."

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