Starbucks, Tax & Low Fat

Maybe Starbucks are right and they are actually making a loss in the United Kingdom. Why? Simply because there are so many options to go with your drink that it takes about 5 minutes to order a “Venti Skinny Wet Extra Hot Extra Shot Sugar-Free Vanilla Caramel Macchiato”. You can pretty much go into any shop and hear this mantra in the first five minutes. What’s the problem with this? The problem is that we are so intent on having our drink skinny that it doesn’t matter what else goes in it. It’s low fat so therefore your body will thank you for it.


You even get your name added on now to make you feel special.

It is ingrained in society that low fat is the best option in life. You can pretty much find low fat versions of anything, but where did this all start and is low fatting your life the best thing to do for your health?


The Low Fat epidemic

Roll back to the 90’s and you will find the cause of heart attacks was put down to fat consumption and cholesterol. This resulted in a low-fat campaign trawling its way across western world. Many took to eliminating fat completely from their diet thinking that their cholesterol would be doing the same and therefore the population would suffer fewer heart attacks. Here comes the food industry releasing products that were effectively cholesterol free and fat free. Even bananas were labelled cholesterol free!


So what happened to the incidence of heart attacks? Well they rose. People started getting fatter and also Type 2 Diabetes swung its ugly head round the corner.


Fat free products

Fat is actually essential for us to function, particularly the absorption of Vitamins A,D, E & K. When you take the fat out of products such as yoghurt, it generally tastes absolutely disgusting. Now the big food companies know this so pack in the sugar to disguise the taste. Sugary foods disturb the balance of sugar in the blood. Excess and can be stored as fat leading to obesity, stored as triglycerides; leading to cholesterol forming in the body, or even excess insulin being released to deal with the sugar; leading to a diabetes type 2 risk.


Skinny milk

Have you noticed that skimmed no fat milk actually tastes sweeter than full fat milk?  Skimmed milk has a higher Glycaemic Load and is actually a lot quicker digesting than whole milk. With the idea of wanting to keep fuller for longer then it may not be the best idea.


Case for sugar free

Artificial sweeteners  (sucralose, aspartame and saccharine) surround us and despite being low in calories, they have been linked to health conditions (1). It’s much better to include natural sugars such as Xylitol  or Stevia. Unfortunately these options aren’t available in Starbucks.


Cutting out all fats?

Not all fats are created equal but over the years may have been labelled the same. There are healthy fats such as monounsaturated fat (found in olive oil, avocados, peanuts and almonds) and Polyunsaturated fats are found in flaxseed walnuts and oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring & anchovies. Saturated fat is generally from animal or dairy sources and can be included as part of a healthy diet. It’s important to keep it within government guidelines. In particular they are helpful in cooking, as the oils are more stable when heated.

Coconut oil has risen in the ranks of the saturated fats as it can raise the protective HDL cholesterol (2) and also may promote weight-loss(3) as well as being touted as having immune and antimicrobial properties.





(1) Lim U, Subar A, Mouw Tm Hartge P et al.  (2006) ‘Consumption of Aspartame-Containing Beverages and Incidence of Hematopoietic and Brain Malignancies’ Cancer Epidemology, Biomarkers and Prevention. 15(9): 1654-9.

(2) Feranil A, Duazo P, Kuzawa C, Adair L (2011) ‘Coconut oil is associated with a beneficial lipid profile in premenopausal in the Phillipines’. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 20(2), 190-5.

(3) St-Onge M (2005) ‘Dietary Fats, tea, dairy, nuts: Potential functional foods for weight control?’ American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 81(1):7-15.

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