The survey of more than 90 popular chilled flavoured dairy milks from Victoria and Western Australia found some varieties contained almost as much added sugar as a can of cola.
“Given the size of some of the flavoured milk drinks sold in store, you could be consuming more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar in just one drink – that’s almost as much as a can of cola,” said LiveLighter Campaign Manager and registered dietitian, Alison McAleese.
With more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar per bottle – the equivalent of 22 red frog lollies – Ice Break 750ml Iced Coffee was the worst offender.
Ice Break’s 750ml Extra Shot Iced Coffee came in second with 8.6 teaspoons – or 21 red frogs worth – of sugar. Browne’s Choc-Honeycomb and Oak Chocolate Milk closely followed, with 21 and 20 red frog lollies (8.5 and 8.4 teaspoons) worth of sugar respectively.
The World Health Organisation recommends no more than six teaspoons of added sugar in a day.
“You would never add nine teaspoons of sugar to milk yourself, so understanding the huge sugar content of these drinks should come as a wake-up call to consumers and help with changing habits,” Ms McAleese said.
“For many workers and students, morning tea includes a stop at the nearest convenience store or servo for an iced coffee or chocolate milk.”
“These drinks may seem like an easy go-to option, but we want people to realise they could easily be knocking back an entire day’s worth of sugar with just one drink.”
Milking the benefits
Drinks containing milk do offer health benefits. Plain milk contains many nutrients for good health, such as protein, calcium, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, iodine and vitamin B12.
“All dairy milk contains naturally occurring sugars like lactose, which are not bad for health, however, flavoured milk also contains added sugars,” Ms McAleese said.
“Unfortunately, the two sugar groups are listed as one item on the nutrition panel, making it difficult to identify the natural sugars from the added sugars.”
Plain cow’s milk contains about 4 to 5g of naturally occurring sugars per 100mL (just over one teaspoon), but anything above is likely to be added sugar.
LiveLighter encourages Australians to check the nutritional panel when considering flavoured milks or better still, switch flavoured milk for plain.
“When choosing a milk drink it’s important to compare brands and choose the one with the lowest amount of added sugar per 100g,” Ms McAleese said.
“Consider adding a pinch of cinnamon, vanilla bean or nutmeg to plain milk for added flavour, or switch high sugar varieties with no or low sugar alternatives.”
LiveLighter’s survey of popular flavoured milks: The worst grab-and-go offenders
The following flavoured milks all exceed the World Health Organisation’s recommended maximum daily intake of 6 teaspoons of added sugar.
For reference, a can of Coca-Cola contains 10 teaspoons of added sugar. There are approx. 45 Red Frogs in a 190g packet.
*Estimated added sugar: milk contains approx. 5% naturally occurring sugar. Added sugar is in addition to this naturally occurring sugar. 1tsp sugar = approx. 4 grams.
** 1 frog = approx. 1.64g. Source: https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/productdetails/307692/allen-s-frogs-alive
In Victoria, the LiveLighter campaign is delivered by Cancer Council Victoria. In Western Australia, the LiveLighter campaign is delivered by Heart Foundation WA and Cancer Council WA and is funded by the State Government of Western Australia. For more information visit www.livelighter.com.au