“Irresponsible” coffee chains failing to reduce sugar in Christmas drinks

Starbucks caramel hot chocolate is the worst offender

Updated on 03 December 2019 • Written By Eamonn Crowe

“Irresponsible” coffee chains failing to reduce sugar in Christmas drinks

It has been revealed that some of the UK’s most famous high street coffee chains have failed to reduce the sugar content in their festive hot drinks, despite the government’s sugar reduction programme.

In fact, some Christmas hot drinks have actually increased in sugar content since Public Health England’s voluntary sugar reduction targets were launched in 2016. The survey took into account both the sugar and calorie content of the largest available sizes of hot chocolates and seasonal lattes which are made with milk or milk alternatives, and the findings make for troubling reading.

The study revealed that some festive beverages contain almost as much sugar as three cans of Coca Cola. Topping the list was Starbucks’ signature caramel hot chocolate – the drink can come topped with whipped cream and the largest size available is a venti. Customers who order the drink in this way will be consuming 23 teaspoons of sugar (93.7g) and 758 calories.

Starbucks’ Gingerbread Latte is not much better, containing 56.6g of sugar when you order the largest size available. It’s not just coffee shops that have come under fire though, as the survey also revealed that KFC has upped the sugar content of its regular vanilla lattes, increasing from 19g of sugar per serve in 2016 to 26g per serving today.  

It’s not all bad news however, as the survey also showed that some brands such as Costa Coffee had worked to reduce sugar content in their drinks, also noting that seasonal drinks are now served in smaller sizes as standard.

Speaking about the findings, Action on Sugar’s chairman Graham MacGregor said: “It’s vital that whichever government is in power next week fully commits to the target to halve childhood obesity by 2030, and to the current agreed Childhood Obesity Plan Chapter 211. This will mean giving full control to PHE to deliver a robust prevention programme and the authority to ensure that a largely irresponsible food industry fully complies – and that must include taxing these sugary milk-based drinks in the same way as soft drinks.”

For a festive activity that doesn’t involve any sugar, check out the best Christmas trees in London.