A recent study of some of the UK’s biggest coffee chains has revealed the shocking amounts of sugar contained in some of our favourite festive hot drinks.
The study by Action on Sugar, based at Queen Mary University of London, analysed over 200 drinks sold by High Street coffee shops in the UK with some containing up to 23 spoonfuls of sugar per cup.
This is the equivalent of four white chocolate and strawberry muffins and 16 teaspoons more than the 7 teaspoons of daily added sugar recommended by health experts.
Coffee chains that were assessed as a part of the study included Caffe Nero, Starbucks, Costa, KFC, Greggs, McDonald's, Eat, Leon and Pret a Manger.
Action On Sugar found that despite the UK governments sugar reduction programme, many of the High Street chains had not made sufficient progress in their commitments to reducing the numbers with many of their drinks actually INCREASING in sugar since 2016.
The survey analysed the sugar and calorie levels of the largest available hot drinks including chocolates and seasonal lattes and revealed that a number of the beverages contained almost as much sugar as three cans of Coca Cola.
Hot chocolate can be a favourite for many of us on a cold winter morning, however, those opting for a Starbucks Signature Caramel Hot Chocolate with whipped cream and using Oat Milk, may want to think again. This particular product was found to contain 23 teaspoons of sugar and a whopping 758 calories.
Starbucks also came up short with its seasonal Gingerbread Latte, which contained over 14 teaspoons of the white stuff and 523 calories per serving.
Another UK High Street favourite, Caffe Nero are also selling drinks which are laden with sugar. For example, their Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate was found to contain 15 teaspoons of sugar, weighing in at 503 calories. The average person would need to spend around 90 minutes on a cross trainer to work this amount of energy off!
Costa, one of the UK’s favourite coffee chains were one of the few exceptions of coffee shops that had managed to reduce sugar levels with some products having been reduced by as much as 50% since 2016.
Registered Nutritionist at Action on Sugar, Holly Gabriel said, “It is shocking that so many high street coffee chains are wilfully putting their customers’ health at risk despite sugar reduction targets for sugary milk drinks being set in 2018.
“Coffee shops and cafes need to take much greater steps to reduce the levels of sugar and portion sizes, promote lower sugar alternatives and stop pushing indulgent extras at the till.”
Katharine Jenner, Campaign Director at Action on Sugar, based at Queen Mary University of London said, “You can always add sugar in, but you can’t take it out. Customers looking for dairy alternatives could be shocked to learn that many coffee shops and cafes use pre-sweetened alternative milks as the nutrition information is often very difficult to find - with information only available on websites or not at all.
“The hospitality industry has a key role to play in being transparent to help reduce the amount of sugar we consume, which is one of the biggest causes of obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and tooth decay. Companies must improve the flow of healthy options bought by always displaying clear nutrition information at the point of sale.”
You can see the full study report here
September 20, 2023