Most people, when given the option, would choose a ‘healthy’ smoothie over a McDonald’s Big Mac, but what if we told you most smoothies or frappes from chain stores like Boost Juice and Gloria Jeans contain more kilojoules and sugar than the famous fast food?
Once again stores and companies are using catchphrases like ‘fat free’, ‘dairy free’ and ‘gluten free’ to trick consumers into thinking they are making the healthiest choice.
A recent survey by the government-funded health program LiveLighter found that the smoothies and frappes sold at Gloria Jeans, Boost Juice and McDonald’s were some of the worst offenders of such false advertising.
With the World Health Organisation recommending no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day – and others recommending as little as possible, most of these smoothies contain 5 times that amount.
Boost Juice’s ‘Brekkie to Go-Go Super smoothie’ contains 2560kj, 500kj more than a Big Mac (2060kj) and 18 teaspoons of sugar.
The ‘Protein Supreme’ smoothie from Boost’s Black Label range, which is marketed as “premium smoothies with an abundance of nutrition”, contains 2360kj and 12 teaspoons of sugar. The Gloria Jeans ‘Mango Fruzie’, marketed as ‘98 per cent fat free’, contains 31 teaspoons of sugar and 2150kj.
McDonald’s Large Bananaberry Bash smoothie is labelled ‘99 per cent fat free’, but contains 17 teaspoons of sugar.
“Food outlets use phrases like 97% ‘fat free’ or ‘dairy free’ to make their smoothies and frappés sound healthy, but with up to 31 teaspoons of sugar and as many kilojoules as a Big Mac, these drinks can actually do more harm than good,” LiveLighter’s Alison Ginn said in a statement.
“Like with soft drinks and other sugary drinks, regular consumption of frappés and smoothies can contribute to weight gain and a buildup of toxic fat around your organs, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.”
Ms Ginn recommends choosing the smallest size or sharing with a friend. For the best way to combat hidden sugars in beverages we would always recommend making smoothies at home – where you are guaranteed of the ingredients and have full control.
Boost Juice responded to claims by explaining that most of their smoothies were designed to be meal replacements.
“Unlike a fizzy drink which offers empty calories, these products contain important things like healthy fats, protein,vitamins, fibre and minerals, which the LiveLighter research ignores,” it said in a statement.
“For example our Protein Supreme contains coconut water, banana, honey, coconut milk, chia seeds, dates, muesli, cinnamon and whey protein powder. The sugar in the product is mostly naturally occurring, from fructose and lactose.”
Whilst this is true, the medium, large and jumbo sizes on offer boast a huge saturation of calories and more sugar – even if from fructose – than the body needs. Similarly smoothies with added protein powder can contain an alarming amount of sugar, preservatives and chemicals, depending on the brand.
Alison Ginn said their decision to compare these drinks to a Big Mac was to raise awareness and get people thinking.
“Most people would eat a Big Mac as a meal, and realise it is an unhealthy choice that is high in kilojoules and saturated fat.”
“With smoothies, it is easy to guzzle them down without realising how many kilojoules they contain. We want people to be aware that while these drinks are marketed as a healthy choice, many actually contain the same or more kilojoules than a Big Mac,” she said.