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Brits underestimate sugar content of 'healthy' drinks

Brits “significantly misjudge” the sugar and calorie content of 'healthy' drinks, research suggests.

A survey over 2,000 people by scientists at the University of Glasgow found while people generally slightly overestimated the amount of sugar in fizzy drinks, they “significantly underestimated” the sugar levels in a milkshake, a smoothie, an energy drink and a variety of fruit juices.

The sugar content of one pomegranate juice drink was underscored by nearly 18 teaspoons.

A chocolate milkshake was believed by those polled to have 6 teaspoons of sugar when it actually has 13.5, and a sparkling orange glucose drink came in with 7 more spoonfuls of sugar than people thought.

According to the survey, people in the UK consume around 659 grams of sugar and 3,144 calories per week - or 450 calories a day - through non-alcoholic liquid intake.

“What you drink can be as damaging to the body as what you eat and there is no question that consuming too many sugar-sweetened drinks can greatly contribute to abdominal obesity and therefore increase your likelihood of developing health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” said Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine at the University of Glasgow.

“This analysis confirms that many people are perhaps not aware of the high calorie levels in many commonly consumed drinks.  

“Some varieties of drinks such as pure fruit juices and smoothies which are perceived as “healthy” options are also very high in sugar. For many people struggling with their weight, reducing their intake of such drinks and replacing with water or diet drinks would be a sensible first target to help them lessen their calorie intake.”

Professor Sattar urged the soft drinks industry to provide drinks with less sugar or offer cheaper diet drinks to further encourage weight loss.

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