The Most Harmful Drinks in America.

The World of Mysteries blog has a list of the 20 most harmful drinks in America. The post compares the sugar in drinks like Snapple Agave Melon Antioxidant Water and Starbucks White Hot Chocolate with dessert equivalents (and each drink has a disgustingly delicious-looking photo). For example, check out the write up on kid-targeted ‘fruit’ drink, Twister:

14. Worst Kids’ Drink
Tropicana Tropical Fruit Fury Twister (1 bottle, 20 fl oz)

340 calories
0 g fat
60 g sugars

Sugar Equivalent: Two 7-ounce canisters Reddi-wip

A few people in the comments have dinged the post for comparing sugar in drinks to the sugar in desserts, pointing out that the calorie counts are much different. For example, the Rockstar Energy drink has 62 grams of sugar, the equivalent of 6 Krispy Kreme glazed donuts, but only 280 calories. A single glazed donut has 200 calories. Obviously, eating six donuts is going to have a worse effect on health than drinking a can of Rockstar energy drink.

But I still think a visual reminder of how much sugar we’re consuming in 20 ounces of liquid is valuable. Last year, the American Heart Association released a statement saying women should consume six teaspoons of added sugar a day and men should consume nine. (“Added sugar” is sugar that doesn’t occur naturally in unprocessed foods.) But Americans, on average, consume 22 teaspoons daily, and one-third of that sugar consumption comes from soft drinks. Amazingly, only 16 percent comes from actual sugar, or candy and desserts.

I’ve said it before, but there’s just too much sugar in adult and child diets, and for children, it’s especially worrying. Too much sugar can create addict-like responses, and it conditions the palate to desire more sweetness, making it difficult to get kids to eat healthier foods (or even drink white milk).


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  • I am always trying to look for something that says 100% fruit juice for my boys, but there are times I fail. They enjoy their kool-aid, which I hate because it has too much sugar in it for me. They add more than what they should when it comes to the sugar while I add only about a 1/4 cup. Gatorade has been taking over and I know that they really shouldn’t be having too much of that either.

    Peace, Love and Chocolate

    • “100% fruit juice” isn’t exactly healthy either. It’s still got a ton of sugar in it.

      • blackink

        I think, more than anything, that realization was one of the health-related nuggets that really left me depressed. I pretty much grew up on juice and other juice-like drinks.

        But wtf is juice, you know?

        • it’s a hard habit to kick; sometimes you just want that drink.

  • One of the commenters on the original post made an important distinction: high fructose corn syrup and/or refined beet sugar versus agave syrup or cane sugar. Not all sugar is created equal. Natural juice that you make yourself in your own handy-dandy juicer has plenty of its own sugar; I don’t consider diet beverages with artificial sweeteners “healthy” or particularly tasty alternatives AT ALL. You’re better off making yourself a nice cane sugar limonata.

    Paranthetically, don’t people drink water no more?

    • actually, the relative healthfulness of certain sugars is probably overstated.

      Some experts attribute agave’s popularity to its delicate taste. The syrup, sometimes called agave nectar, is up to three times as sweet as table sugar, so it takes less of it to sweeten, say, a cup of tea or a cake recipe. Chefs and food scientists also attribute agave’s recent popularity surge to its reputation for being a more healthful alternative to sugar.

      “People are disgusted with aspartame and Splenda, and they’re looking for an alternative to high-fructose corn syrup,” said Kantha Shelke, a food chemist specializing in natural foods and principal with the Chicago-based food science think tank Corvus Blue. But Shelke adds that consumers’ high hopes for agave may be somewhat misguided. “People say it’s a healthful alternative, but it’s not really. A sugar is a sugar is a sugar,” she says.