New data reveals concerning amount of sugar in frozen drinks

Updated 3 Mar 2021.

Slushy

We are calling on the next WA Government to protect the community from potentially misleading nutrition information by major Perth fast food retailers, after a recent report into the amount of sugar contained in frozen sugary drinks revealed some outlets in Perth are selling slushies containing more than double the stated amount of sugar.

Obesity Prevention Manager, Kelly Kennington, said the report (by the Local Health Authorities Analytical Committee) analysed samples taken from slushies sold at fast food outlets, convenience stores, petrol stations and cinemas in both 2018 and 2020.

"Samples were taken from slushies sold at McDonald's, KFC, 7-Eleven, Hungry Jacks, Coles Express, Caltex and Grand Cinemas," said Ms Kennington.

"In both the 2018 and the 2020 surveys, almost half the samples were found to contain sugar levels that were substantially greater than the amount advertised in the online nutrition information panels.

"In the most recent survey, the worst offending drinks were sold by 7-Eleven and contained more than double the amount of sugar they claimed the products contained.

"This means that in the largest size consumers would be drinking 41 teaspoons of sugar in one hit, which is almost six times the World Health Organization's recommended daily added sugar intake of seven teaspoons.

"Drinking just one of these every day for the 90 days of summer is equivalent to consuming 14.9 kilos of added sugar and if added on top of our normal food intake, could potentially lead to a weight gain of 6.4 kilos."

Ms Kennington says more needs to be done to protect children from insidious marketing tactics that can lure consumers in, especially over the summer months during the school holiday period when people are more likely to drink frozen drinks like slushies to cool down.

"These sugary drinks appeal to children because they're cheap and colourful and employ fun, appealing advertising imagery," she said.

"It does not make sense that ads promoting these drinks to kids, often for as cheap as $1, are plastered on Government-owned buses and outdoor spaces across Perth, given this exact type of marketing is contributing to sickness in our community that is costing the Government millions.

"Through our Make Cancer Priority #1 Manifesto, we are continuing our call for greater regulation of advertising industry, and for the next State Government to stop selling ad space on state-owned assets (like buses, trains and stations) to the unhealthy food and drink industry.

"Families shouldn't be continually confronted by these ads at children's sporting events, on the bus on the way to school or at recreation venues."

According to Gael Myers, an Accredited Practising Dietitian who works on the LiveLighter® Campaign, currently in WA, more than two-thirds of adults and more than one-quarter of children are above a healthy weight range.

"Sugary drinks contribute to weight gain, which increases the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and 13 different types of cancer," Ms Myers said.

"The cost to WA hospitals from overweight and obesity related illness was $338 million in 2016, and is estimated to rise by 80 per cent to $610 million per year by 2026."

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