Whilst we are all aware of the sugar levels in many drinks and foods what has shocked people is the amount of sugar that has been found in many drinks sold in high street coffee shops. Some drinks that were tested contained 20 or more teaspoons of sugar. Coffee shop chains involved in the survey have committed to reducing sugar content.
The survey that was conducted last year looked at drinks served in Starbucks, Costa, KFC and Caffe Nero. The worse offenders were Starbucks hot mulled drink which contained 99g of sugar per serving which is 25 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Behind this was Costa Chai latte massimo which had 79.7g of sugar per serving equivalent to 20 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Just behind this was Starbucks again whose white chocolate mocha with whipped cream venti had 73.8 g of sugar per serving, 18 teaspoons of sugar. The Starbucks signature hot chocolate venti has 60g of sugar per serving, 15 teaspoons of sugar. The KFC Mocha has 58.8g of sugar per serving, 15 teaspoons of sugar and finally Caffe Nero offered a caramel latte which had 50.6g of sugar per serving equal to 13 teaspoons of sugar.
The survey was carried out by Action on Sugar who looked at 131 drinks in total. Of these they were clear that 98% of the drinks tested would have received a red nutritional label for high sugar content had they been a ‘food’ for sale. The recommended level of sugar each day for those aged 11 and over is about 30g.
So the concern from this research is that one of these drinks alone were supplying more than the total amount of sugar you should be having in one day.
Action on Sugar
Action on Sugar have called on high street chains to be clearer with the amount of sugar in some of their drinks and also to get rid of the extra-large cup sizes. The message is not to never drink them but for consumers to be clear of what is in them and to only have them as occasional drinks. The other issue which was highlighted is that allowing customers to customise their drinks, whilst popular, can also cause problems. If you add in syrups, cream, caramel and chocolate then you are adding a huge amount of sugar to your drink.
Reaction of Coffee Chains
Starbucks have said that they are committed to reducing sugar in their drinks by 25% by the end of 2020. They also make it clear that they also offer lower sugar options and that nutrional information is on display in stores.
Costa say that they also are taking steps to reduce sugar content. They also said that by 2020 they will see significant reduction in sugar content.
Caffe Nero said that they were targeting iced drinks as a priority to reduce sugar content by 10%. They also make it clear that they offer sugar free syrups and that nutrional information is available on all its drinks.
The Way Forward
The research is shocking, that one drink can take you over the daily sugar allowance is very worrying. To put it bluntly if you have one of these drinks each day and then add in the sugar you consume in your food during the day you could be seriously harming your health. This could explain why we have one of the worse obesity rates in Europe. The message is clear that one of these drinks as a treat now and again is fine but not on a daily basis. Always check the sugar content, ask if you are unclear. Some of these drinks may look innocuous but they have more sugar in them than some of the worse cases of fizzy drinks often cited.