Cereal killers: the stealth sugars lurking in breakfast drinks

  • New research from Give Up Loving Pop reveals the dangerously high levels of sugar in ‘breakfast drinks’.
  • 18 out of 20 breakfast drinks surveyed contain very high levels of sugar (>13.5g/portion or >11.25g/100ml) contributing to tooth decay, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
  • Products such as Fuel 10k’s Chocolate Breakfast Milk Drink are slipping under the radar despite containing only three grams of sugar less than a standard can of Coca-Cola.
  • The ‘breakfast in a bottle’ concept- which includes products such as Fuel 10k, Weetabix On The Go and Up&Go- is challenging the existing breakfast market, and has rapidly grown from nothing to £13m in three years.
  • Breakfast is fast becoming an inconvenience in the UK; last year, Brits consumed breakfast on the go an estimated 205 million times, up 13% on the previous year, and more food-to-go solutions are expected.

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New research from the Give Up Loving Pop (Gulp) campaign has revealed the extremely high levels of sugar in ‘breakfast drinks’; a new, fast-growing product category of drinks that have recently arrived in the UK.

Following the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s report on Carbohydrates and Health this summer, which suggested slashing our sugar intake by half, and vocal concerns about sugar from food campaigner, Jamie Oliver, breakfast drinks represent a new example of ‘stealthy sugars’.

Whilst the public are aware of the high sugar content of many popular soft drinks, and with the government facing calls to introduce a tax to reduce their consumption, research from the Give Up Loving Pop campaign reveals a new generation of breakfast drinks whose high sugar content is flying under the radar.

Stroll down the breakfast aisle in your local supermarket and you may not realise that breakfast drinks such as ‘Weetabix On The Go: Chocolate’ contain as much as 25g of sugar per serving (6 teaspoons). Similar offenders include the Up&Go Strawberry breakfast drink packed with 18.5g of sugar per serving (5 teaspoons). Demand for ‘breakfast in a bottle’ is growing rapidly creating a market worth £13million in less than three years.

With the UK’s growing obesity problem seeing no signs of slowing, public health campaigners are worried that the rise of breakfast drinks will draw the public away from healthier breakfast options and toward the consumption of breakfast drinks, that the research reveals, are often little better than Coca-Cola.

Robin Ireland, Director of the Give Up Loving Pop campaign, comments:

“Breakfast should be the most important meal of the day, but with these ‘breakfast in a bottle’ drinks we’re seeing yet another avenue for sugar to infiltrate our daily diets. Our research reveals that the food and drink industry is still finding new and innovative ways to stealthily pack sugar into every meal of the day.”

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to anticipate where sugar will turn up next in food and drinks.”

“With the nation struggling with bulging waistlines, the last thing we need are more stealthy sugars in our food and drinks. Recent scientific recommendations suggest that we should limit our consumption to 25-35g of sugar per day at most. We stand little chance of meeting these recommendations when people are likely to be drinking breakfast drinks not knowing that they sometimes contain as much as 32g of sugar per serving, just 3g of sugar less than a can of Coca-Cola!”

“You would assume that breakfast in a bottle would be the healthy option in the morning; but with some of these breakfast drinks you are almost drinking as much sugar as a can of coke.”