The Shocking Amount of Sugar in Hot Drinks

A new study published by Action on Sugar, a British campaign group, confirmed the news that we have all been dreading: Our specialty hot drinks are loaded, extremely loaded, with sugar. And therefore, they are not as healthy for us as we would like to believe them to be.

The study found that certain hot drinks at places like Starbucks, Costa, and Pret a Manger (the last two being popular chains in the United Kingdom) offer drinks with massive amounts of sugar. For example, Starbuck’s vanilla latte and caramel macchiato both contain more than eight teaspoons of sugar each. The venti white chocolate mocha contains 18 teaspoons of sugar and the biggest culprit belongs to the hot mulled fruit grape with chai, orange and cinnamon coming in with 25 teaspoons of sugar. With the World Health Organization recommending that the average adult consume no more than six teaspoons of sugar to maintain a healthy weight, these drinks are way over the recommended limit; it is the heavy consumption of drinks high in sugar (such as these) that is contributing to the fast rising obesity rates in the United States.

Kawther Hashem, a researcher for Action on Sugar, commented, “These hot flavored drinks should be an occasional treat, not an ‘everyday’ drink. They are laden with an unbelievable amount (of) sugar and calories and are often accompanied by a high sugar and fat snack.” These drinks can become dangerous because of the high frequency and large amounts of which they are typically consumed.

However, a Starbucks spokesperson reiterated the company’s commitment to reducing the sugar content in their indulgent drinks, such as the ones listed above. By the end of 2020, the company will reduce the amount of sugar in these drinks by 25%. The spokesperson stated, “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.”

The story is the same at other coffee retailers. Dunkin’ Donuts’ vanilla chai has more than 11 teaspoons of sugar. Their hot macchiato is still high, measuring seven teaspoons. Over at KFC, their mocha contains 15 teaspoons of sugar while a large mocha at McDonald’s has 11. The renowned British chain, Costa Coffee, has a chai latte massimo which includes 20 teaspoons of sugar.

The report also concluded that more than 98% of the hot, flavored drinks that are sold throughout the United Kingdom in major coffee chains all have “excessive levels of sugars per serving.” Out of these drinks, more than 35% contain nine or more teaspoons of sugar, comparing to the amount of sugar that is in a can of Coke.

The next time you go to your favorite coffee place or even the next time you think of purchasing your favorite beverage, hot or cold, think twice about the amount of sugar that is in there. Are there better options for you, options that contain lower amounts of sugar? Be smart in your decisions. Go for low-sugar, low-calorie, low-fat choices.


MP’s Take: Be careful in what you purchase. There might just be hidden dangers in there, like the crazy amounts of sugars listed above. Those amounts are simply insane. None of us need that much sugar in our daily intake, let alone in a single drink. This study focused solely on hot drinks, but don’t be fooled: Cold drinks can have just as much, if not more, sugar in them as well. For many of us into fitness, Gatorade, Powerade, and the like are popular options. However, these can contain large amounts of sugar as well, just like our protein bars and supplements. Always be aware of this. Cutting out or cutting down your sugar intake will benefit you tremendously.




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