Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Eating Well
Coffee, energy drinkers beware: Many mega-sized drinks loaded with sugar
Starbucks recently announced a new size, a 31-ounce drink called the “Trenta,” which will be in stores this spring. The mega-sized coffee joins the ranks of other energy drinks that can pack plenty of caffeine and calories. Ellen Schuster, a University of Missouri Extension state nutrition specialist, says that Americans should be wary of extra calories and sugar in the quest for bigger, bolder drinks.
“The sheer size of new coffee and energy drinks increases consumers’ potential for unhealthy calorie and sugar consumption,” said Schuster. “A Trenta-sized Starbucks’ lemonade could include 21 teaspoons of sugar – much more than should be consumed at one time, or in one day.”
Excess sugar is common in many prepared beverages. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, people who consume drinks with added sugars consume more total calories, and studies have found that drinking sweetened beverages is related to weight gain.
Health experts at the Mayo Clinic note that moderate consumption of coffee and other caffeinated beverages is unlikely to cause harm, but large quantities in excess of 500 mg, or more than four cups of coffee, can cause difficulty sleeping, irritability, restlessness, stomach problems and irregular heartbeat. Especially of concern is caffeine consumption among children and adolescents.
“Energy and coffee beverages are subject to the same nutrition rules as other foods and drinks; it’s all about moderation,” Schuster said. “Ideally, it’s best to avoid drinking calories, because drinks leave you less full than solid foods. By eating calories in the form of high-calorie, high-sugar drinks, people crowd out other nutritious foods. However, like any indulgence, it’s fine to order a ‘Trenta’ drink as an occasional treat.”
These tips are based on findings from MU research conducted throughout the year. For more information, visit: MissouriFamilies.org and nutritionmythbusters.blogspot.com. The researchers are part of MU Extension and the MU Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology – a joint department in the College of Human Environmental Sciences, the School of Medicine and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at MU.
This article was originally featured on the MU News Bureau website.
Last update: Thursday, February 24, 2011