Every day, thousands of people across the UK visit high street cafes and coffee chains to get their caffeine fix or warm their cockles in the wintry weather. For many of us, visiting a coffee shop is just part of our daily routine, but have you ever stopped to think about what goes into your favourite drinks and how much sugar is lurking beneath the irresistible frothy foam and chocolate sprinkles?
Most of us are aware of the high sugar content in fizzy drinks, but it may come as a surprise to hear that many of the nation’s favourite hot drinks actually contain more sugar than energy drinks and Coca Cola. Campaign group Action on Sugar has published the results of a new study, which shows hot drinks on sale at popular chains such as Costa, Starbucks and Caffe Nero often contain incredibly high levels of sugar.
Action on Sugar analysed more than 100 popular hot drinks and the results are alarming. The worst offender was the Starbucks Mulled Fruit Drink, which contained a whopping 25 teaspoons of sugar per serving. This is more than double the recommended daily sugar intake for an adult. Others topping the list included Costa’s Chai Latte, Starbucks Signature Hot Chocolate, KFC Mocha and Caffe Nero’s Caramelatte, all of which contained more than 13 teaspoons of sugar per serving.
Kawther Hashem, a researcher for the charity Action on Sugar, said that coffee shops must act to provide patrons with more information about the products they sell. The charity has suggested improving nutritional information labelling and reducing the size of drinks served, in addition to decreasing the sugar content. Speaking on the radio, she also advised people to consider these hot drinks a treat rather than an integral part of their daily diet and discouraged people from buying high calorie snacks such as cakes, biscuits and crisps to accompany them.
In an age where obesity and type 2 diabetes are on the rise and more and more children are ending up in hospital requiring dental treatment under general admission, Action on Sugar claims that high street chains should do their bit to promote healthy choices and make it easier for people to see how much sugar different drinks contain.
Action on Sugar has long been campaigning for transparent food labelling and reductions in the sugar content of popular food products and drinks. Their call for a sugar tax has been supported by numerous public health and private organisations including the British Dental Health Foundation and the British Dental Association. Recently, NHS England became the first organisation to confirm the introduction of a sugar tax. By 2020, a 20% tax will be applied to sugary drinks on sale at hospital shops and cafes across England.