by Alice Bastable, LiveLighter Victoria Campaign Manager and Dietitian

At a glance consumers may think they are making a healthy choice by choosing flavoured waters over soft drinks. However, we looked beyond these products’ health claims and promises of functional benefits and found Aussies could be guzzling more sugar than they realise!

In fact, given the size and expanding range of products and flavours available, they could be sipping down up to five teaspoons of sugar in one go. That’s more than the amount of sugar found in a McDonald’s soft serve!

Flavoured water: what the survey found:

A recent LiveLighter analysis of over 35 flavoured waters revealed 29 of the 35 drinks examined emphasised the product’s ‘natural’ properties on its packaging.

Brands such as H2OCoco described their products as ‘hydrating’ and ‘energising’ while a number of Cool Ridge varieties product names included ‘restore’, ‘immunity’ and ‘revitalise’ suggesting these drinks could improve buyers’ health.

With 5.7 teaspoons of sugar per serve, H2Coco’s ‘Coconut water cocoespresso’ was the worst offender. Glauceau’s ‘Focus Iodine: kiwi and strawberry’ vitamin water was a close second with 5.5 teaspoons of sugar per serve.

Flavoured waters

The ‘health halo’ effect:

By cherry picking the favourable features of their products beverage manufacturers are placing a ‘health halo’ on these drinks. This is concerning when we know almost a third of Australians trust health claims like ‘natural’, ‘low fat’ or ‘organic’ on products.

While unflavoured coconut water contains naturally occurring sugars, some coconut water products also have added sugar, often in the form of fruit juice. It’s important to be wary of consuming too much added sugar– drinking just a few of these products each week can quickly push up our intake of added sugar.

So what really is the healthy alternative?

While these flavoured waters are way better than sugary drinks, don’t get sucked into the whirlpool of flavoured waters. With nearly two thirds of Australians above a healthy weight, consuming these sugar laden drinks is really not necessary.

The most natural drink of all, plain water, should always be our number one choice.

At the end of the day, you can trust water to hydrate, restore and revitalise and best of all – it’s free.

Top tips when choosing a ‘healthy’ drink:

  • Refer to the products nutrition information panel instead of relying on health claims to guide your choice. Find out which products are high or low in sugar by using LiveLighter’s tips on ways to cut back on sugar
  • Use the LiveLighter wallet card to compare similar products. This will help you determine what products contain too much sugar.
  • If you don’t like the taste of water alone, add fruit or herbs for flavour. For more tips, see our tips on jazzing up your water here.

LiveLighter’s survey of popular flavoured waters: The worst offenders

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