Excessive amounts of sugar in restaurant breakfast meals, study finds

By Josie Clarke, PA Consumer Correspondent

Morning meals such as waffles, pancakes and crepes sold in restaurants and supermarkets still contain excessive amounts of sugar despite their inclusion in the Government’s strategy to cut childhood obesity, according to a study.

Health campaign group Action on Sugar (AoS) is calling on restaurants, cafes and diners to “stop hiding nutrition information” by introducing mandatory labelling and reformulation of the food they sell.

It follows its findings that a Breakfast Club cafe salted caramel banoffee pancake contained 1,800 calories, which would take more than eight hours of walking to burn off, while a four cheese crepe from My Old Dutch has more calories and salt than three McDonald’s Big Macs.

AoS found a Mr Pretzels chocolate pretzel contains 930 calories and a Creams Cafe Oreo waffle with gelato contains 19 teaspoons of sugar, more than two cans of cola.

AoS called on the Government to enforce mandatory colour-coded nutrition and calorie labelling on menus and online, noting that the products it surveyed were included in the Morning Goods category selected for the strategy to tackle childhood obesity.

It also said manufacturers should be required to make the products with “far less” sugar and salt, which was “easily achievable”.

AoS surveyed 191 products from restaurants, cafes and takeaways including 94 crepes, 12 pancakes, 16 pretzels and 69 waffles and their toppings.

Only 70 of the products provided full nutrition information in store or online.

Chains such as Creams, Kaspa’s Desserts, Snowflakes Gelato, The Breakfast Club, Wafflemeister, Auntie Anne’s and Mr Pretzels had no nutritional information available on menus, it found.

Others including Harvester, My Old Dutch, Crepeaffaire, Brewers Fayre, McDonald’s and Marks & Spencer Cafe provided nutrition information on their websites but not all supplied this on their menus.

Nutritionist Kawther Hashem, campaign lead at AoS based at Queen Mary University of London, said: “It is absurd that supermarkets are forced to be as transparent as possible about what they put in their products, from allergens to calories, but when eating out we often have no idea what is in our food and drink.

“If companies continue to hide their nutrition information there is little hope for consumers to find the healthier options.”

AoS chairman Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London, said: “Despite the Government’s childhood obesity strategy, food and drink stands in shopping malls and casual dining eateries are awash with unhealthy options. The out of home sector is constantly pouring cold water on plans to do anything to improve our health.

“We now need both Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care to enforce product reformulation so parents have affordable, healthy food options.”