Health and Medicine

Here's How Much Sugar Your Flavored Hot Drink Contains

February 18, 2016 | by Josh L Davis

Photo credit: Some drinks from coffee shop chains were found to have almost 100 grams of sugar in them. mangpor2004/Shutterstock

We all know that we should ease up on the fizzy drinks: A can of Coca-Cola, for example, contains around nine teaspoons of sugar. But how much of the sweet stuff do you think is in your chai latte? The answer might just surprise you. According to a new report published in the U.K., some flavored beverages from high street coffee shops contain up to a staggering 20 teaspoons of sugar, or nearly three times your recommended daily intake of added sugar.

The campaign group Action on Sugar looked at over 130 hot drinks sold from major coffee shop chains and fast food outlets, such as Starbucks and McDonald’s, and found that 98 percent of the drinks would be given a “red” warning for high levels of sugar if they were forced to label them.

The drink that came out on top (or bottom, depending on which way you look at it) was a venti grape with chai, orange and cinnamon hot mulled fruit concoction from Starbucks. It was found to contain an astonishing 99 grams of sugar (25 teaspoons). To put that into perspective, you shouldn't consume more than 37.5 grams (9 teaspoons) of added sugar a day if you're a man, or 25 grams (6 teaspoons) if you're a woman, according to the American Heart Association.

Next on the list was a chai latte from the British multinational coffee shop Costa Coffee, which had almost 80 grams of sugar, followed by a white chocolate mocha with whipped cream containing 74 grams of the white stuff. From the list, more than a third of the drinks were found to contain more than or similar amounts of sugar to a regular can of Coca-Cola. Needless to say, these excessive amounts of sugar are not doing anyone any good, and with 20 percent of people regularly visiting the coffee shops, they are probably a significant factor in the obesity epidemic seen in the U.K.

The offending drinks are typically the ones that offer high-sugar syrups to add extra flavor, usually in a bid to attract people into the shop who wouldn’t normally drink coffee. But Action on Sugar say that many consumers are unaware of how much hidden sugar, and as a result calories, are present in the flavored drinks. The group say that they intentionally singled out Starbucks because its serving size was much greater than for any of the other coffee shops. 

Perhaps next time you go to order a pumpkin spiced latte, you might want to ask yourself if you’d eat the 10 teaspoons of sugar in its place. 

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