Weight loss diet: High amounts of sugar have been found in certain lunchtime meal deal combinations
The high amounts of sugar in the lunchtime meal deals of many supermarket and high street retailers has been revealed by a new report.
A survey by Action on Sugar, based at Queen Mary University of London, singled out WHSmith, Tesco, Morrisons and Co-op as chains offering meal deal options with the highest levels.
They discovered that certain combinations of meal deals – which usually include a sandwich, drink and snack – contain up to 30 teaspoons of sugar.
This is the equivalent in sugar of 79 chocolate fingers, and four times an adult’s daily maximum intake.
“Eating too much sugar is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay,” said Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of Action on Sugar.
“It may seem like it’s a good deal for our wallets, but some meal deal choices are a bad deal for our health.”
Weight loss diet: Lunchtime meal deals commonly contain a sandwich, drink and snack
The meal deal combination discovered to have the highest amount of sugar – at thirty teaspoons – was from WHSmith.
The meal deal combination discovered to have the highest amount of sugar – at thirty teaspoons – was from WHSmith, and included a sandwich plus the option of a Mountain Dew Citrus Blast 500ml drink and a bag of Skittles Crazy Sours.
In response, a WHSmith spokesperson said: “At WHSmith we offer our customers a wide choice of food and drink.
“Our meal deal is incredibly popular and contains a number of healthy eating options, including sandwiches and salads.
“The example given is extreme and wholly unrepresentative of what our customers purchase – making up only 0.004 per cent of meal deals sold.
“We are always listening to our customers and we will continue to provide them with a wide range of choices to suit their tastes.”
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Weight loss diet: A meal deal combination from WHSmith was found to contain 30 teaspoons of sugar
Other meal deal combinations very high in sugar that were highlighted by the report include those from three supermarkets – Tesco, Morrisons and Co-op.
Tesco’s Smokehouse Pulled Chicken with Mesquite Style Sauce with a Monster Energy 500ml drink and Mars Duo was found to contain 30g of sugar.
A Tesco spokesperson said: “This example is just one of over 13 million different meal deal combinations so our customers can choose from a wide variety of healthy options.
“We’re continuously making our products healthier so it’s easier for our customers to make healthy choices.
“That’s why we’ve already removed 9.4 billion calories from the annual consumption of our own label drinks and they all now contain less than 5g of sugar per 100ml.”
Weight loss diet: Too much sugar can place you at risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay
Close behind with 28g of sugar and 1048 calories was Morrisons’ Sweet Chilli Chicken Wrap with Relentless Passion Punch Energy 500ml drink and Millionaire Shortbread.
A Morrisons spokesman said: “We offer thousands of meal deal combinations for just £3, many of which include low sugar and sugar free drink options.”
At 28 teaspoons of sugar and 855 calories was Co-op’s Meal Pot Blackbean Pulled Beef and Noodle with Rockstar Blueberry Pomegranate Acai energy 500ml drink and Rocky Road Bar.
Cathryn Higgs, head of food policy at the Co-op, said: “We are committed to helping consumers eat better and have a wide choice of healthy lunchtime products for shoppers.
“Each part of our lunchtime meal deal includes a healthier option from fruit packs to low fat or calorie sandwiches, salads and drinks without high sugar and all of our lunchtime own label products have traffic light labelling.”
Weight loss diet: Tesco, Morrisons and Co-op were also chains singled out for their meal deals
Action on Sugar are calling for all ‘high’ sugar drinks and confectionery to be excluded from popular meal deal promotions, and as part of Sugar Awareness Week they are asking the Government to take action against retailers using price promotions which encourage overconsumption of high sugar and calorie products.
“These excessively high sugar combos can have a detrimental effect on people’s health, particularly if eaten daily,” said Kawther Hashem, registered nutritionist and researcher at Action on Sugar.
“It is staggering that by just making simple swaps at lunchtime, you can reduce your sugar intake by a massive 29 teaspoons of sugar.
“Often it is the drinks included in the meal deals which are extremely high in sugar.
“The majority of the retailers have more high sugar drinks as part of meal deal promotions than lower sugar drinks; this is not giving consumers enough healthier choices.”