The sugar content in the so-called health drinks for children has been in the news lately. The issue came into prominence when an Instagram influencer – FoodPharmer (https://www.instagram.com/foodpharmer/?hl=en) was forced to take down his video on Bournvita, which questioned the health-related claims of the brand.
The influencer was even forced to issue an apology to the brand. But later, it was reported in the media that the company that sells Bournvita came out with an explanation. It said that each 20 gm serving of Bournvita contained only 7.50 grams of added sugar, which was much less than the daily recommended intake limit of sugar for children.
Let us see, if my math is correct, 7.50 out of 20, is 37.5%. So, Bournvita is at least 37.5% sugar. That sounds like a health drink, right? There is also the technicality of total sugar vs added sugar. As you will read below, the total sugar content in Bournvita is higher than 37.5%.
What The Product Labels Say?
To know the exact sugar content in Bournvita and the other two similar brands sold in India – Horlicks and Boost, I did some online search for the product label images. I found most of those on the website of an FMCG retailer. Here’s what I found:
Cadbury Bournvita, sold as a “Cereal-based beverage mix”, declared the following ingredients on its retail pack:
Cereal extract (barley, wheat), sugar, cocoa solids, color (150C), minerals, vitamins, wheat gluten, liquid glucose, maltodextrin, milk solids, iodized salt, emulsifiers, raising agent, and flavors. The total sugars content was declared as 49.8% and the added sugars content was declared as 37.4%.
Horlicks Classic Malt, sold as malt-based food, contained the following ingredients:
Malt (barley, wheat, etc.), milk solids, sugar, wheat gluten, soy protein isolate, minerals, vitamins, iodized salt, emulsifier, acidity regulators, food color, and flavors. The sugar content (sucrose) was declared as 13.5%. The details of total and added sugars were not available. However, the total carbohydrate content was declared as 79%, which in the case of Bournvita was 86.7%.
Boost, sold as malt-based food for children, declared the following ingredients on its retail pack:
Cereal extract (barley, wheat, millet), malted barley, sugar, wheat flour, milk soilds, cocoa powder, salt, wheat gluten, soy protein isolate, minerals, vitamins, flavors, food color (150C), and acidity regulators. Total sugar and added sugar were declared as 35% and 9.5% respectively.
It would be safe to assume that the total sugar content in these “health drinks” was somewhere between 35% and 50%. If that looks healthy or not, you can decide for yourself.
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