There is plenty of evidence showing that sugar drinks lead to weight gain. Studies find that people don’t compensate for liquid calories by eating less the rest of the day.
Since 1998, Americans have been wising up. Based on data from the industry publication Beverage Digest, per capita consumption of “carbonated sugar drinks” (which includes regular soda and energy drinks, but not sports drinks, fruit drinks, ades, teas, and sugary waters) dropped by a remarkable 25 percent. Regular Coke is down by 34 percent and Pepsi by an astounding 51 percent.
Sugar drinks will boost obesity, and obesity raises the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers (like breast, colon, uterine, pancreatic, and esophageal).
In the United States, warning labels and excise taxes could help curb consumption, supermarkets and restaurants could build in price incentives that encourage people to go for lower-calorie drinks, and cities could restrict portion sizes at restaurants (as New York has been trying to do).
Better yet, the Food and Drug Administration could restrict added sugars in beverages to about one-fourth the current (roughly) 9 teaspoons per 12 ounces, as CSPI petitioned the agency to do in 2013. That would largely solve the soft-drink problem.
But soda isn’t the only high sugar and high calorie fast food drink on the market. Here are three others we hope you’ll skip.
1. Godiva Trufflelatas
“Keep your cool as the temperature rises with a GODIVA Trufflelata,” says the Godiva website. Just choose your favorite “luscious truffle” and Godiva will “blend to perfection.” Why bother with a puny 100-calorie truffle, when you can pick your fave—like the Chocolate Lava Cake or Mint Chocolate Chip or Strawberry Crème—and drop it inside “the season’s most satisfying sip”?
Take the Oreo Trufflelata. “This sensational shake brings together white chocolate, Oreo cookies, and our Cookie Dough Truffle—made of cookie dough ganache in a milk and white chocolate shell with dark chocolate chips. Topped with fresh whipped cream and crushed Oreo.”
Gosh, that sounds gourmet. Who’d ever guess that its ingredients include sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, coconut and palm kernel oils, emulsifiers, gums, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and preservatives?
When you’re done sipping your 12 oz. Trufflelata, you’ll need to find a home for 1,130 calories plus 27 grams of saturated fat (more than a day’s worth), 720 milligrams of sodium (about half a day’s supply), and 30 teaspoons of sugar (nearly all of it added). The other flavors aren’t much better.
It’s like having three tall (12 oz.) Starbucks Java Chip Frappuccinos. Is that sensational or what? “Go ahead, make us a habit,” says Godiva. “Buy 6, get 1 Free.” What a steal.
2. Starbucks Frappuccinos
Remember when Starbucks introduced the original Coffee Frappuccino in the summer of 1995? Well, it’s still around—and celebrating its 20th anniversary. And while a no whip venti (24 oz.) is loaded with some 14 teaspoons of added sugar, it has “just” 350 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat.
But that’s so last century. Now you can pick up a S’mores Frappuccino with 600 calories, 14 grams (more than half a day’s worth) of sat fat, and (we estimate) 19 teaspoons of added sugar. “Marshmallow-infused whipped cream, milk chocolate sauce, a creamy blend of graham, coffee, milk and ice,” says Starbucks’ website, “finished off with more marshmallowy whipped cream and a graham cracker crumble.” Goodbye, iced coffee. Hello, milkshake.
The Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino has similar numbers, thanks to caramel sauce, caramel drizzle, whipped cream, and “crunchy caramel sugar topping.”
Instead, try a grande Coffee Frappuccino Light. It’s got 110 calories, zero sat fat (thanks to nonfat milk and no whipped cream), and about 4 teaspoons of added sugar (thanks to stevia, a no-calorie natural sweetener).
3. Dunkin’ Donuts Frozen Coffee Coolattas
Blame it on Starbucks. Its Frappuccinos set off the frozen coffee drink stampede. Since then, every chain worth its beans has come up with its own icy, creamy concoction.
But Dunkin’ Donuts shouldn’t have tried so hard. Their Frozen Coffee Coolattas come with a whole lotta artery-clogging fat. Try 15 grams of saturated fat—3/4 of your day’s limit—in the 16-oz. “small.” Get the 32-ounce “large” and you’re talking 1 1/2 days’ worth of sat fat (29 grams)—along with 800 calories and around 18 teaspoons of added sugar. That makes the 3 grams of sat fat in Starbucks’ venti (24 oz.) Coffee Frappuccino with whole milk look like diet food.
And that’s just for Dunkin’s original Frozen Coffee Coolatta. Order a Caramel or Mocha flavored Frozen Coffee Coolatta your fat cells will need to find housing for another 990 calories, 29 grams of saturated fat, and some 25 teaspoons of added sugar. It’s like drinking four Chocolate Frosted Donuts. M-m-m-m.
How can frozen coffee cause so much trouble? For starters, it’s not really frozen coffee. (Why would anyone think that?) It’s a frozen coffee drink—a “base” of sugar with coffee extract, coloring, and flavors is mixed with cream and syrup and topped with whipped cream.
Get a small original with nonfat milk instead of cream and the calories drop to “only” around 210 and the sat fat goes to zero. Even decadent whole milk means “only” 2.5 grams of sat fat in the small.
That Dunkin’. Always tryin’ to put a spare doughnut around our midsections.