Drink This Not That: 15 Worst Drinks In England

The British have a drinking problem. And for once, it's not alcohol. It's Sugar. Until recently, we thought the bad guys were high sugar fizzy drinks such as Coke and Pepsi. But the paradigm has shifted.

Contents of this article
wimpy drink

In a new book by Dr Robert Lustig 'Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar' research has shown that it doesn't matter so much whether the sugars you drink come from fruit juice, smoothies or fizzy drinks. 

The point is that liquid fructose sugar is dangerous for our health, irrespective of the source. These sugars are overloading our livers and leading to health issues such as heart problems, diabetes and obesity, which not only affects our quality of life, but also costs the NHS over £6 billion a year.

The reason why drinks are so bad is due to fibre. When you eat fruit, fibre forms a protective layer that acts as a barrier to the intestine. This slows absorption of sugar, so the liver has a chance to catch up. In fizzy drinks, fruit juices and smoothies, the barrier has gone, which leads to the liver being overloaded.

1. Worst Coffee Shop Fruit Juice - Pret Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice (500ml)

small bottle of orange juice

Nutritional info:

  • 229 calories 
  • 0.6g fat 
  • 51g sugar

Sugar equivalent

13 McVities Hobnob biscuits

Our view:

Let's start with a fact:This drink is almost as sugary pound for pound as Coke, and it contains more calories than a can of Coke! But because it's juice it's okay, right? Wrong. Fructose sugar is found in high quantities in fruit juice and excessive consumption is a primary cause of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Doesn't matter if it's juice or Coke, concentrated liquid sugar is bad. Full stop.

Drink this instead:

Pret Carrot Juice

  • 60 calories
  • 0.3g fat
  • 5g sugar

2. Worst Squash - Blackcurrant Ribena 500ml

bottle of ribena next to oreo cookies

Nutritional info:

  • 215 calories 
  • 0g fat 
  • 52.6g sugar

Sugar equivalent:

13 Oreo Chocolate biscuits

Our view:

Good old Ribena. Made in the UK with real blackcurrants. Healthy? No. Drinking this 500ml bottle of Ribena gives you 60% of your daily amount of sugar in one hit. As sugary as a can of Coke, and with almost 100 more calories to boot, you'd do yourself a favour by choosing a less sugary option.

Drink this instead:

No Added Sugar Ribena

  • 11 calories
  • 0g fat
  • 1.3g sugar

3. Worst Smoothie - Innocent Pomegranates, Blueberries & Acai Superfood Smoothie (250ml)

innocent smoothy next to 3 and a half doughnuts

Nutritional info:

  • 171 calories 
  • 0.5g fat 
  • 34.3g sugar

Sugar equivalent:

3.5 Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Donuts

Our view:

This (not so) Innocent smoothie has almost 30% more sugar per 100ml than Coca-Cola, and is the most sugar rich smoothie on the market.

Don't be fooled by the 2 portions of your 5 a day. The high fructose sugar content piles the pressure on your liver, and the fact that it's a smoothie makes virtually no difference. The fibre has been so heavily pulped during the manufacturing process that the full sugar load of this smoothie is still rapidly absorbed by the body.

Recent recommendations from the sugar expert Dr Robert Lustig have suggested that we need to get our sugar intake down to 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men. On that basis, this drink would deliver 100% of your RDA. Not good.

Drink this instead:

An Apple

  • 95 calories
  • 0g fat
  • 19g sugar

4. Worst Coffee - Starbucks Venti White Chocolate Mocha with whipped cream

starbucks venti white chocolane mocca with cream next to a pile of grahams

Nutritional info:

  • 613 calories 
  • 74g sugar
  • 25.8g fat

Sugar equivalent:

10 bowls of Nestle Golden Grahams

Our view:

The name says it all really. This Starbucks coffee manages to pack in 74g of sugar, 613 calories and 26 grammes of fat. 

Let's take a moment to absorb that...That's a coffee with more fat than a Big Mac and more sugar than 2 cans of Coke.

To work off these calories you'll need to spend an hour and a half in the gym on the bike, and you'd still have 50 more calories to work off!

Drink this instead:

Filter Coffee

  • 5 calories
  • 0.1g fat
  • 0g sugar

5. Worst Kids Drink - Starburst Strawberry Flavour Milk (400ml)

bottle of starburst next to a stack of hobnobs

Nutritional info:

  • 288 calories 
  • 6.4g fat 
  • 42g sugar

Sugar equivalent:

11 McVities HobNob Biscuits

Our view:

Don't let the fact that this is a milk drink fool you into thinking this drink is healthy. This oversized beverage has double the sugar content of semi skimmed milk as well as a host of E number additives. 

At 10.5g of sugar per 100ml, this drink is as sugary as Coke, and for a supposedly 'school friendly' healthy kids drink, that's bordering on criminal.

Drink this instead:

Semi Skimmed Milk (250ml)

  • 123 calories
  • 4g fat
  • 12.5g sugar

6. Worst Milkshake - Burger King Large Chocolate Milkshake

burger king hot chocolate next to a strawberry tart

Nutritional info:

  • 612 calories
  • 12g fat 
  • 102.4g sugar

Sugar equivalent:

Tesco Finest Strawberries And Cream Tart (serves 4 people)

Our view:

This is officially the highest sugar content drink in the UK, and the only drink to break the 100g sugar barrier to boot. To put 100g of sugar in perspective, that's over 20 teaspoons worth. Can you ever imagine adding that to your morning coffee? The drink also packs a hefty calorie punch, coming in at 612 calories; the equivalent of 2 extra cheeseburgers with your meal. To burn off the calories in this behemoth, you'd have to swim (front crawl) for over an hour!

Drink this instead:

Tesco Free From Chocolate Coconut Milk

  • 125 calories
  • 5g fat
  • 17g sugar

7. Worst Water - This Water Pure Squeezed Lemon & Limes (250ml)

Bottle of this water with lemon and lime flavour next to two marshmallow rice krispies bars

Nutritional info:

  • 96 calories 
  • 0g fat 
  • 21.3g sugar

Sugar equivalent:

2 Kellogg's Chewy Marshmallow Rice Krispies Bars

Our view:

Imagine taking a glass of water, pouring in 4 teaspoons of sugar, and still calling it water...doesn't make sense right? Exactly! 

It takes the biscuit that this water is advertised as water, but only has 20% less sugar than a full fat Coke...

Drink this instead:

Water

  • 0 calories
  • 0g fat
  • 0g sugar

8. Worst Energy Drink - Rockstar Punched Energy + Guava (500ml)

rockstar punched energy drink next to 20 maryland cookies

Nutritional info:

  • 335 calories 
  • 0g fat 
  • 78g sugar

Sugar equivalent:

20 Maryland Chocolate Chip Cookies

Our view:

This fruit flavoured energy drink has 40% more sugar per 100ml than Red Bull, which in turn is sugarier than Coke. 

Making Coke look like the good guy for once is hard, but Rockstar manages it with ease. 

That stack of biscuits is just under an entire pack of Maryland cookies, and unless you're clinically insane, you'd never consider guzzling down that much food in one sitting.

Drink this instead:

Relentless Sugar Free

  • 15 calories
  • 0g fat
  • 0g sugar

9. Worst Fruit Juice - Sun Grown Pure WhiteGrape Juice (250ml)

pack of grape juice next to stack of four doughnuts

Nutritional info:

  • 175 calories 
  • 0g fat 
  • 42g sugar

Sugar equivalent:

4 Original Glazed Krispy Kreme Donuts

Our view:

This fruit juice is one of the most highly concentrated sugar drinks of all the drinks we analysed. 

If you're shouting at the screen "But it's a fruit juice" then you've got it all wrong...

It doesn't matter where the sugar comes from. It matters that these sugars are pounding your liver without the fruit's natural fibres, which usually act as a barrier to stop the bombardment.

Drink this instead:

Tropicana Trop 50 Low Sugar Orange Juice

  • 53 calories
  • 0g fat
  • 10g sugar

10. Worst Sports Drink - Lucozade Sport Elite Orange (500ml)

bottle of lucozade next to two magnum ice creams

Nutritional info:

  • 195 calories 
  • 0g fat 
  • 40g sugar

Sugar equivalent:

2 Walls Magnum Classic Chocolate Ice Creams

Our view:

We know sports drinks are supposed to contain sugars to replace what is lost through sweat. But this Lucozade Sports Elite prides itself on containing '40% more fuel for Matchday'.

In reality, that means more sugar, nearly 10 teaspoons of the stuff to be precise.

Drink this 500ml bottle will give you a bigger sugar hit than swilling down a can of Coke.

And don't be fooled by the research and the elite athlete sponsorship, the most recent research on the efficacy of sports drinks (by the BMJ) shows their benefits to be patchy at best.

As a rule of thumb, unless you're doing high intensity sport for more than an hour, water is the best thing for you.

Drink this instead:

Lucozade Sport Lite

  • 50 calories
  • 0g fat
  • 5g sugar

11. Worst Iced Fruit Drink - Costa Massimo Red Berry Fruit Cooler

cup of costa massimo fruit cooler next to stack of honey and granola bars

Nutritional info:

  • 409 calories 
  • 0.6g fat 
  • 97.1g sugar

Sugar equivalent:

16 Nature Valley Oats & Honey Granola Bars

Our view:

See those 16 Nature Valley breakfast bars? That's how much sugar is in this supposedly healthy looking fruit drink.

Slurp this drink down for breakfast on your way to work and you'll have consumed 108% of your RDA of sugar. That's one hell of a hit on your liver, and if you're a regular consumer of this kind of drink, whether you're thin or fat this could be causing you all sorts of health difficulties.

Just because it's got fruit in the name, people like you and me think it's healthy, but the reality is this has almost as much sugar as 3 cans of Coke.

Drink this instead:

Starbucks Mango & Passion Fruit Frappucino

  • 157 calories
  • 0.1g fat
  • 37g sugar

12. Worst Iced Coffee - EAT Large Mocha Chiller

Large Mocha chiller from East next to 8 Twix caramel slices

Nutritional info:

  • 580 calories 
  • 19.1g fat 
  • 90.5g sugar

Sugar equivalent:

8 Twix Caramel Slices

Our view:

Another coffee on the list, this time from EAT, that should come with a health warning every time it's ordered. 

This behemoth contains 90g of sugar, that's 21 teaspoons of the white stuff, alongside 580 calories, the equivalent of a McDonalds Quarter Pounder with Cheese, and then some!

To get the same sugar hit from Coca Cola you'd have to drink two and half cans of the Brown Doctor. Madness!

Drink this instead:

Starbucks Iced Coffee Latte

  • 53 calories
  • 0.1g fat
  • 7.5g sugar

13. Worst Sports Recovery Drink - For Goodness Shakes Milk Chocolate Sports Recovery Drink (475ml)

bottle of goodness shakes sports drink next to a stack of 15 ginger nut biscuits

Nutritional info:

  • 315 calories 
  • 5.4g fat 
  • 50.3g sugar

Sugar equivalent:

15 Tesco Ginger Nut Biscuits

Our view:

What could be better than a post recovery protein drink? Quite a few things actually! Sugar wise, this drink is only a fraction less sugary than Coke, but coming in such a large size, it manages to give you over 50g of sugar, more than half an adult's daily amount in one hit.

This sports drink also has more calories than a Mars Bar. On top of that, according to Goodness Shakes, if you have a particularly hard training session, you should drink 2 of them!

Unless you're training seriously hard, we'd recommend you stick with milk or water.

Drink this instead:

Semi Skimmed Milk (250ml)

  • 123 calories
  • 4g fat
  • 12.5g sugar

14. Worst Fizzy Drink - Burger King Super Size Coke

cup of burger king super size coke next to a pile of chocolate wafer bars

Nutritional info:

  • 315 calories 
  • 0g fat 
  • 79.5g sugar

Sugar equivalent:

9 Penguin Milk Chocolate Wafer Bars

Our view:

Not all Coca Cola is created equal. This abomination from Burger King contains 50% more sugar per 100ml than the same size drink from Coca Cola. 

Why? It's all in the process. This is draught Coke, made by mixing soda water with concentrated sugar syrup, which somehow manages to be even more sugary than the original!

The jury's still out on whether diet drinks are an acceptable alternative, but in the meantime, we say if you have to have fizzy drinks, stick with diet.

Drink this instead:

Burger King Super Size Diet Coke

  • 1.9 calories
  • 0g fat
  • 0g sugar

15. Worst Hot Chocolate - Starbucks Venti Soy Vanilla Spice Hot Chocolate

starbucks venti vanilla

Nutritional info:

  • 540 calories 
  • 7g fat 
  • 80g sugar

Sugar equivalent:

5 Kellogg's Strawberry Pop Tarts

Our view:

You know when you're ordering a large hot chocolate that it's an indulgence, but is it really fair of Starbucks to take it this far? 

Guzzling down the 80g of sugar in this drink is equivalent to munching that stack of Strawberry Pop Tarts, generally considered to be one of the unhealthiest breakfasts ever produced. 

Drinking this sugary monstrosity jacks your blood sugar up and results in strain on your liver and kidneys, the creation of new fat molecules and perhaps worst of all, the sugar lull after the initial hit makes you want to eat more!

Drink this instead:

Starbucks Classic Hot Chocolate

  • 155 calories
  • 6.4g fat
  • 17.2g sugar
How can we help?
View all services


Customer reviews
star full star full star full star full star full (1323)
star full star full star full star full star full by Kevin Simon, 05 Oct 2018
Would highly recommend, professional.
star full star full star full star full star full by Val, 16 Aug 2018
I was impressed with the questionnaire to make sure the meds I requested were right for me and the follow up email from the prescribing doctor to see if I needed any support. The meds came promptly, were well packaged and are comfortably in date - I thought they might be very near their sell by date but I was wrong to be suspicious. If I ever need this service again I wouldn't hesitate.
star full star full star full star full star full by Garry Baldwin, 28 Sep 2018
Professionals I would recommend to everyone!
star full star full star full star full star full by Evelin, 19 Sep 2018
Very quick posting and quick test results.
star full star full star full star full star full by Louise, 26 Jul 2018
Good communication and quick delivery

gmc logo GPC logo

Related products

Authorised and regulated by