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  • Writer's pictureChin Ling

How Much Sugar is in Our Drinks?

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

Drinks can be deceptive, none more so than Long Island Iced Tea. I sipped this gently on a lovely summer holiday one year. It tasted like nothing more than a refreshing iced tea, so harmless that one drink led to two, then fast-tracked to four and more. They say errors are good because we learn something. That day, I definitely learned that you can’t judge a drink by how harmless it tastes.

Water, it seems is out of fashion. My kids tell me they have friends who hate water, plain water that is. It has to be mixed with a flavour. Back in my day, and I go back a few years, there was just tea and coffee for adults, Ribena and the old-fashioned fizzy drinks like Coke, Fanta and lemonade for treats, and Slush Puppie just to see what a blue tongue looked like. If you didn’t have any of those, you drank water. Most of us drank water.

Now, there are so many reasons to drink anything but water. There are blue drinks and red drinks which give you enough energy to run up a mountain, clear drinks that look like water but have super fruits added to them, fruit juice with bits in, drinks with fizz and without. And if you pop to the shop at lunchtime, you can get a meal deal which includes a soft drink.

In theory, we have no excuse but to blame ourselves for not knowing how much sugar is in our drinks. You can look at the midget print on the containers to see how much sugar they contain but stating 20g or 32g of sugar means very little to me. I need to SEE it! That's when I found this fantastic website called

Under beverages you’ll see that a can of Coke gives you 10 cubes of sugar. You can 'tut tut' at all the Coke drinkers and give yourself a saintly pat on the head until you realise that your orange juice for the same serving is 9 cubes and your vitamin water with added guava and jackfruit is 5 cubes.

There are some luxury grown-up drinks that feature in our favourite coffee houses which are even more deceptive. A Starbucks Venti Soy Vanilla Spice Hot Chocolate contains 80g of sugar, the equivalent of almost 20 cubes.

Innocent Smoothie with pomegranates, blueberries and acai is 34g, the equivalent of 8 cubes of sugar. And an Eat Large Mocha Chiller contains a whopping 90.5g of sugar, which is more than 20 cubes!

Some drinks contain corn syrup, glucose/fructose syrup or isoglucose. There is still debate over where this ingredient is linked to the rise in obesity, liver damage and heart disease, but chemically speaking, our bodies do not recognise the metabolism of this syrup and so processes it differently from sugar. At the end of the day, they are like a sugar, a cheaper substitute and will lead to weight gain and tooth decay.


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