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Home // How Unhealthy Are Those Starbucks Specialty Drinks?
Who holds the responsibility of our health? The Food and Drink Industry? Employers? Government? Ultimately, it is up to each and everyone of us – and education is key. So just how unhealthy are those Starbucks Specialty Drinks? With the huge success of the Unicorn and now the Mermaid, Healthline News asked both sides (including Starbucks) to weigh in.
Almost everyone agrees that there are too many calories and too much sugar in those Frappuccino drinks. So, should you abstain, or is it OK to occasionally indulge?
Unless you live on an internet-free compound, you were no doubt accosted by pictures of the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino during its limited five-day run in April.
This was a drink that was clearly made for Instagram fame, though it is not the caffeine empire’s first concoction to create similar fanfare. Nor is it likely to be the last — this month the Mermaid Frappuccino seems to be all the rage. Reviews of the Unicorn were mixed, with Starbucks’ loyalists rushing to get a taste while much of the internet stood back in judgment.
Memes were created accusing Starbucks of pushing diabetes, sanctimommies tut-tutted their parenting peers for allowing their children to indulge, and lines were drawn in the sand between those who think an occasional treat is no big deal and those a bit more intent on demonizing the Unicorn.
What’s in these drinks?
With 410 calories and 59 grams of sugar in a 16-ounce grande, it’s not shocking the Unicorn raised a few eyebrows. By comparison, a 16-ounce Coca-Cola contains 190 calories and 52 grams of sugar. The Unicorn far exceeds what most nutritionists consider an acceptable level of sugar and calories in a beverage.
But it’s worth noting that it is not the only drink on the Starbucks specialty list to boast such stats. In fact, it’s not even the worst. The S’mores Frappuccino, for instance, contains 490 calories and 67 grams of sugar in a 16-ounce serving.
What’s wrong with all that sugar?
Consuming that much sugar on a regular basis can have health consequences. According to a 2016 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, if a person’s daily caloric intake is made up of 25 percent or more sugar, their risk of dying of heart disease more than doubles compared with those whose diets consist of less than 10 percent sugar.
The same study found a cause and effect relationship where the level of risk increases alongside the level of sugar intake, regardless of age, sex, amount of physical activity, and body-mass index.
High average doses of sugar have also been found to contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance, liver failure, and pancreatic cancer.
As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day. Meanwhile, research has found that the average American consumes closer to 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day. READ ON