Why McDonald’s Shamrock Shake is a Sugar Monster

John just posted two useful items on McDonald’s Shamrock Shake and the government considering regulating sugar because of our over-consumption of it. Remember, we live in a country where 60 per cent of us are overweight and 30 per cent outright obese.  The New York Times says,”Between 1975 and 2005, the average weight of Americans increased by about 20 pounds. Since the 1970s, the national obesity rate jumped from around 20 percent to over 30 percent.”Among youngsters, some 15 percent of those ages six to 19 are seriously overweight. That’s nearly nine million, triple the number in 1980. You can read how damaging obesity is here.

Apparently the Shamrock Shake is so popular that McDonald’s is making it available nationally this year. John offered some nutritional info based on a Washington Post write up.

As regular readers know, I have a problem with the sugar content in some of Mickey D’s fare. I wrote Why You Shouldn’t Drink McDonald’s Frozen Strawberry Lemonade last year.

Briefly, I was troubled by the 67 grams of sugar in the Frozen Strawberry Lemonade. In case you don’t realize it, 67 grams of sugar amounts to just under 16 teaspoons full of sugar. That amounts to 1/3 of an 8 ounce cup.

Now comes the Shamrock Shake. Guess how much sugar is in this little sweetheart? I was unable to find it on the McDonald’s nutrition page. Probably because it is too early to have been updated. The Fat Secret website offers the following info for a 16 ounce serving: 550 calories, 13 grams of fat of which 8 grams are saturated fat, 180 mg of Sodium 96 grams of carbs and a stunning 82 grams of sugar.  Keep in mind this is the small one. The large, 32 ounce one is 164 grams of sugar. My emphasis.

At 4.2 grams of sugar per teaspoon, the small amounts to 19.52 teaspoons full. That is a good half cup of sugar per serving. Really.

Before you say you will drink it anyway because it tastes so good, please check out the following info from my previous write-up:

“”On June 8 I wrote How to Beat the Heat. In it, The New York City Office of Emergency Management suggested, “Drink fluids – particularly water – even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid beverages containing alcohol, caffeine, or high amounts of sugar.”

So, drinking this amount of sugar is not recommended if you want to cool yourself off.

What exactly is wrong with sugar-sweetened soft drinks?

The Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living says, “The real problem is that almost all sugar-sweetened soft drinks contain no beneficial nutrients, only calories, and with the adult and child obesity epidemic, encouraging reduced consumption of empty calories is the right thing to do. Not only do sugar-sweetened soft drinks have calories, the way your body perceives calories you can drink more than you can eat before becoming satiated.

“Sugar-sweetened soft drinks have been associated with the development of obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes.””

The Livestrong.com blog says that too much refined sugar “may raise your blood pressure and contribute to elevated triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood. Both conditions raise your risk of developing heart disease. High consumption of refined sugars may also increase body inflammation, aggravating arthritis or autoimmune conditions.

“Bacteria in the mouth feed on refined sugars, creating tooth decay. Sugar causes glycoproteins to adhere to the teeth, resulting in the formation of plaque. The bacteria adhere to the plaque, and begin the process of decay. Avoiding sugary snacks is a recommended method of protecting your teeth.”

We need to make the decision about sugar ourselves and leave the government out of the equation. Maybe you will reconsider whether you really want to do battle with the McDonald’s Shamrock Sugar Monster.



Filed under body fat, calories, fast food, healthy eating, McDonald's, obesity, portion size, Snacking, Weight

3 responses to “Why McDonald’s Shamrock Shake is a Sugar Monster

  1. Pingback: How Much Sugar is in SoBe Green Tea? | Two Regular Guys Talking about Food, Exercise and Men's Health

  2. I’m in complete agreement with the basis of your post. I have good memories of the Shamrock Shake, and even though I do NOT eat at McDonald’s any more, I was tempted to roll through the drive through and get one. Sugar, mint, dairy… Sounds so good!! It didn’t hurt that friends posted links in their FB feeds about how bad shamrock shakes are, to jolt me out of my dreamy reverie. I resisted!!

    However, there are 24 tsp in a half-cup. 19.5 tsp is more like 0.4 cups of sugar. That’s still a crazy, huge amount of sugar, but it’s not quite “a good half cup” as you mention in your post.


    • HI, Karen – Thanks very much for your thoughtful comment. I’m glad we are in pretty much agreement.

      I will grant that 19.5 tsp at 0.4 cups of sugar is not an actual half cup, but it is only one tsp short of a half cup. For my money 0.4 cups is close enough to 0.5 cups – a half cup. I stand by my phrasing – it qualifies as a good half cup to me. So, 0.4 out of 0.5 – I call that a good half cup. It’s 80 percent of a half cup.


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