Two-thirds of ginger beer contains more sugar than Coca-Cola, research warns

Perhaps it explains why the Famous Five always had so much energy for adventures

Senior Reporter

The UK’s most popular brand of ginger beer has more than 13 teaspoons of sugar in a single can, according to research published today.

Old Jamaica Ginger Beer, which has been sold in the UK since 1988, was found to contain 52.8g of sugar in a standard 330ml can. Overall, almost two thirds of ginger beer drinks tested had more sugar in them than a can of Coca-Cola.

The research was conducted by Action on Sugar, a campaign group made up of scientists and other specialists concerned about the effect of too much sugar on people’s health. They analysed 232 sugar-sweetened drinks taken from the shelves of leading supermarkets last month.

The results showed that 79 per cent contained six or more teaspoons of sugar per can – more than the World Health Organization’s recommended daily maximum – and that a typical can of cola had as much sugar as three and a half original glazed Krispy Kreme donuts.

Researchers warned that some products that might be associated by consumers with healthy ingredients or a wholesome image – such as ginger beer, which is knocked back in great quantities by the children in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series – may in fact contain lots of added sugar. Shloer White Grape and Elderflower contained 8.8 teaspoons of sugar in a 330ml serving, the survey showed.

“They shouldn’t assume that just because it says ginger or another fruit that all the sugar content comes from that specific fruit,” said nutritionist Kawther Hashem, who helped conduct the research. “We’d encourage them to look at the labelling and the list of ingredients. If sugar’s the first or second ingredient … that means that the product contains more.”

Action on Sugar said the research also highlighted large variations in the sugar content of very similar products, demonstrating that sugar levels could be reduced significantly without dramatically affecting taste. Old Jamaica Ginger Beer contained 16g of sugar per 100ml, whereas Asda’s Chosen by You variety contained just 7g.

A spokesperson for Old Jamaica Ginger Beer said the drink was “produced using a traditional recipe, which includes authentic Jamaican root ginger, to create its trademark fiery taste and is designed to be a treat. We also offer a light version of Old Jamaica Ginger Beer which delivers the same flavour intensity but with no sugar.”

Professor Graham MacGregor, a specialist in cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary University of London and the group’s chairman, said added sugars were a “completely unnecessary” part of human diets and contributed to high levels of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

“We urge the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to set incremental targets for sugar reduction now – and to start with these sugary drinks,” he said. “Replacing sugar with sweeteners is not the answer: we need to reduce overall sweetness so people’s tastes can adjust to having fewer sweet drinks.”

But Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said Action of Sugar had been “blinded by political zeal”, adding: “These campaigners appear to have missed the 60 per cent of soft drinks on the market which contain no added sugar. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they have also ignored the evidence that shows obesity arises from an imbalance of calories consumed and calories expended and is not caused by one particular ingredient.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “As a nation, we need to consume less sugar. We are working with the food and drinks industry to reduce the amount of sugar in products and make healthier alternatives available.”

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Extras
indybest
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits