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‘Dangerously’ high sugar content in many hot flavoured drinks, says Action on Sugar

17 February 2016  •  Author(s): Victoria White

Campaign group Action on Sugar is today warning of the dangerously high sugar content of certain hot beverages found in many high street coffee shop chains.

hot flavoured drinks

New research from Action on Sugar shows that 98% of the 131 hot flavoured drinks analysed would receive a ‘red’ label for excessive levels of sugars per serving as sold.

What’s more, 35% of the hot flavoured drinks contain the same amount or more sugars than Coca Cola, which contains 9 teaspoons of sugar per can.The worst offender identified by the research is the Starbuck’s Hot Mulled Fruit – Grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon Venti (extra-large) – a mix of chai and fruit concentrate, topped with a cinnamon stick and a slice of orange – which contains 25 teaspoons of sugar, followed by Costa Coffee’s Chai Latte (large) with 20 teaspoons of sugar. Interestingly, a Starbuck’s Hot Mulled Fruit – Grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon Tall (medium) has almost half the amount of sugar  than the larger sized cup (13 vs 25 tsp).

ShopDrinkTeaspoons of sugar per serving
StarbucksHot Mulled Fruit – Grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon – Venti25
CostaChai Latte – Massimo – Eat In20
StarbucksWhite Chocolate Mocha with Whipped Cream – Venti18
StarbucksSignature Hot Chocolate – Venti15
KFCMocha15
Caffe NeroCaramelatte – Drink In13

From the entire out-of-home hot drinks surveyed, 55% contain the equivalent, or more than, the maximum daily recommended amount of sugars for an adult and teenager.

When it comes to hot drinks that are perceived to be ‘healthy’, a Starbuck’s Chai Tea Latte Venti (extra-large) contains 13 teaspoons of sugar per serving alongside Eat’s Chai Latte Big and Matcha Latte Big at 11 teaspoons. 

Starbucks sells two sizes larger than a typical medium serving size of 340ml, at 454ml & 568ml – adding to the sugar intake in many of its hot flavoured drinks. These serving sizes are much larger than those offered by its competitors. Action on Sugar says it is time coffee chains stopped serving extra-large cups of sugar-laden hot drinks.

Kawther Hashem, Registered Nutritionist and Researcher for Action on Sugar, commented: “Coffee shop chains must immediately reduce the amount of sugar in these hot drinks, improve their labelling and stop selling the extra-large serving sizes.

“These hot flavoured drinks should be an occasional treat, not an ‘everyday’ drink. They are laden with an unbelievable amount sugar and calories and are often accompanied by a high sugar and fat snack. It is not surprising that we have the highest rate of obesity in Europe. Our advice to consumers is to have a plain hot drink or ask for your drink to contain a minimal amount of syrup, preferably sugar free, in the smallest serving size available.”

A Starbucks spokesperson said: “Earlier this year we committed to reduce added sugar in our indulgent drinks by 25% by the end of 2020.  We also offer a wide variety of lighter options, sugar-free syrups and sugar-free natural sweetener and we display all nutritional information in-store and online.”

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