Campaign group calls for ban on sugar-laden ‘freakshakes’

Campaign group calls for ban on sugar-laden ‘freakshakes’
Credit: Shutterstock.com/ zarzamora

Action on Sugar is calling for a ban on calorific milkshakes sold in high street restaurants and fast food chains after its new survey exposed excessive levels of sugar.

The worst culprit is the ‘freakshake’ – which combines cake, chocolate bars and other calorie laden fare with an ice cream-based milkshake.

For example, the survey found that family restaurant Toby Carvery sold the most “shocking shake” which its ‘Unicorn Freakshake’. The dessert beverage contained 39 teaspoons of sugar – more than six times the recommended daily amount for a 7 to 10-year-old.

The second worst offender identified was Five Guys Banana and Chocolate Shake which contained 37 teaspoons of sugar – the same as drinking four cans of cola.

When it comes to hidden calories, Public Health England’s sugar reduction targets include a cap on milkshake products likely to be consumed in a single occasion to 300 calories.

However, a milkshake such as Toby Carvery Unicorn Freakshake at 1,280 kcal per serving is more than half the daily-recommended amount of calories for an adult and four times PHE’s proposed calorie limit.

An average 25-year-old would need to jog for nearly three hours or vacuum the house for five hours to burn off the calories.

Action on Sugar also investigated the sugar and calorie levels in milkshakes sold by supermarkets and found that 90% of the 41 products surveyed would receive a ‘red’ (high) label for excessive levels of sugars per serving as sold.

This new research concludes that all products sold in high street restaurants and fast food chains, with nutrition labelling available online, would receive a ‘red’ (high) label for excessive levels of sugar per serving.

To mark its 3rd National Sugar Awareness Week (12-18th Nov), Action on Sugar is calling for mandatory traffic light coloured nutrition labelling across all menus, while the UK government is consulting on menu calorie labelling.

Moreover, the group is calling for a ban on the sale of milkshakes that exceed a calorie limit of 300 kcal per serving.

This contrasts with Public Health England’s ambition to achieve only a 10% reduction in sugar by mid-2019 and a further 10% by mid-2021 to meet the 20% overall target, which will still leave these milkshakes with vast and unnecessary amounts of sugar.

Registered Nutritionist Kawther Hashem, Researcher at Action on Sugar based at Queen Mary University of London, says: “Undoubtedly some of these milkshakes contribute to excess sugar and calorie intake, and it is shocking this information is hidden from the consumer, who would struggle to find it.

“It is time the government introduced legislation to force companies to be more transparent about what is in their products by displaying clear nutrition information online and in the outlets, at all times.”

Holly Gabriel ANutr, Nutrition Campaigner at Action on Sugar, adds: “It is unnecessary and unacceptable to sell milkshakes with over half an adult’s daily calorie needs in a single serving. There should be a limit of 300kcal per serving on these drinks.

“If you choose to eat out in a restaurant or cafe, you could unknowingly be consuming up to four times the amount of sugar and calories compared to a similar product from a supermarket, which demonstrates how easy it is to reduce sugar and calories.”