Christmas drinks sold by Starbucks, Costa and Pret have up to THREE times more sugar than a doughnut


It’s that time of year.

High street coffee chains have unveiled their festive drink offerings, a mix of gingerbread, eggnog and praline lattes topped with cream and hot chocolates flavoured with orange and mint. 

But experts have urged Britons against over-indulging in the festive sweet drinks at chains such as Costa, Caffe Nero and Pret in the run-up to Christmas.

One hot chocolate at Starbucks has nearly as much sugar as four Krispy Kreme doughnuts, a can of Coca-Cola and a Mars Bar. It even contains more calories than four McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives.

Meanwhile, Caffe Nero’s Christmas version of their hot chocolate, packed with salted caramel and brownie pieces, has double the amount of sugar as a homemade version. 

One hot chocolate at Starbucks has nearly as much sugar as four Krispy Kreme doughnuts, a can of Coca-Cola and a Mars Bar. It even contains more calories than four McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives. Meanwhile, Caffe Nero’s Christmas version of their hot chocolate, packed with salted caramel and brownie pieces, has double the amount of sugar as a homemade version

HOW MUCH SUGAR SHOULD I EAT? 

Eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain and tooth decay.

The type of sugars most adults and children in the UK eat too much of are ‘free sugars’, which includes any added to food and drink and sugars in honey, syrup and fruit juice.

But sugar found naturally in milk, fruit and vegetables do not count as free sugars.

Adults are not supposed to have more than 30g of free sugars a day – around seven sugar cubes. 

Children aged seven to 10 should have no more than 24g of free sugars (six sugar cubes), while those aged four to six should not have more than 19g (five sugar cubs). 

Eating too much sugar can mean consuming too many calories, leading to weight gain. 

Being overweight increases the risk of suffering heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

Sugar is also one of the main causes of tooth decay.

Health chiefs advise Britons to have no more than a 150ml glass of fruit juice and smoothies per day and limit the amount of foods with high levels of free sugars.

Source: NHS

MailOnline looked at the nutritional content of 21 festive drinks available from high street chains. 

The data is for either the medium-sized option of each drink or the only available size in Pret and Caffe Nero.

Eleven of the options, costing up to £4.25, contained more than the maximum 30g (seven teaspoons) of free sugars that adults are advised not to exceed per day. Children are supposed to eat even less, with four to six-year-olds recommended to stick below 19g.

Free sugars are those added to food and drinks. These are different to those found naturally in fruit, vegetable and milk — which are not included in the 30g allowance. 

Eating too much sugar over time can lead to weight gain and tooth decay.

Starbucks’ Praline Cookie Hot Chocolate was the worst offender, containing 43.4g of sugar per mug — 45 per cent more than sugar than an adult should have in a day and the equivalent of roughly three-and-a-half Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts.

The festive brew also has 346 calories — as much as four chocolate digestives. 

Caffe Nero’s Salted Caramel Brownie Hot Chocolate contained 42.9g sugar per cup. By contrast, a version made at home with Cadbury’s Cocoa Powder and 200ml of semi-skimmed milk has roughly 23g. 

It is also the most calorific option on sale across the six chains analysed, with 441 per serving. This is more than a McDonald’s Cheeseburger (298).

The Terry’s Chocolate Orange Hot Chocolate sold at Costa is the next-most sugary, with 42.2g per cup — more than two Kit Kat Chunky bars (20.5g each). It also contains 327 calories, as much as two one-and-a-half Mars bars, which have 228 calories per 51g bar.

The Macaroon Hot Chocolate was the most sugary option available at Pret, with 37.9g per cup. It also contains 395 calories. This is more than a can of Coca-Cola (139 calories and 35g sugar per 330ml can).

Meanwhile, the Mint Mocha was the most sugary option at Gregg’s (31g), containing more than two mince pies, which have around 14g of sugar per portion.

It is also packed with 293 calories, as much as three pigs in blankets (90 calories each).

McDonald’s festive chocolate option — Hot Chocolate Deluxe — was the least sugary option. However, it still has 28g, as much as one-and-a-half Twix bars (9.8g each). And it contains 201 calories — nearly as much as a McDonald’s Apple Pie (243 calories).

WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE? 

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS

• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count

• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain

• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on

• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options

• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts

• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day

• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide  

Dr Duane Mellor, a dietitian from Aston Medical School in Birmingham, told MailOnline: ‘When we look at these drinks, we can put them into context considering a can of regular Coca-Cola or Pepsi has around 135 calories and 35g of sugar and that is widely acknowledged as not an ideal drink choice.’

He added: ‘All of these have higher energy content than a can of regular soft drink, whereas a simple tea or coffee with a splash of milk will be less than 50 calories and contain no added sugar.

‘If it is a one off, maybe its not a big problem. But considering some of these drinks contain more energy than some sandwiches, it is important to think what goes with it. 

‘A lot of these drinks would be considered as substantial snacks based on their energy content so it may not be a good idea to have them with a mince pie or other festive nibble.

Dr Mellor added: ‘If you are looking for something a little different as a festive drink but are still trying to manage your sugar intake, perhaps think about spiced teas which get their flavour without the addition of sugar rich syrups.’

Harriet Burt, policy and communications officer at Action on Sugar and Action on Salt, told MailOnline: ‘Year on year these festive hot drinks continue to be ladened with excessive sugar and calories — some of which contain as much as 9.5 teaspoons of sugar in just one serve.

‘This drives home the need for measures such as a comprehensive sugar reduction programme or a reformulation tax, as proposed in the National Food Strategy, to ensure that companies are discouraged from pouring in so much unnecessary sugar in the first place.

‘This would have a positive impact on our nation’s health and their teeth.’

Dr Linda Greenwall, from charity Dental Wellness Trust, told MailOnline: ‘Sugary drinks are one of the main contributors to Britain’s tooth decay crisis — especially among children. 

‘Whilst it’s ok to have an occasional treat, consumers need to be aware of the excessive amounts of sugar in these drinks especially given the record numbers of children who are having multiple fillings or extractions, which is often a result of drinking these types of beverages. 

‘Coffee shops must be more responsible and stop putting profits before the health of our nation.’

A Caffe Nero spokesperson said: ‘Our festive drinks are an occasional treat for customers to choose if they wish. They are only available for a limited period and are only three drinks from a balanced range which include low to almost zero calorie coffee and other hot drinks.’ 

A Costa Coffee spokesperson said: ‘We know our customers love visiting us for their everyday favourites as well as for a festive treat with friends and family. 

‘We are proud of the balanced range of food and drinks we offer, with customisation options available to reduce calorie and sugar content. 

‘Alongside our always-on programme of reformulation, we also help our customers make the choice that’s right for them by providing clear nutritional information online, on our app, and in-store.’ 

It comes as England is in the grips of an obesity crisis, with 36 per cent of adults overweight and 28 per cent being obese.

Meanwhile, 15 per cent of 10 and 11-year-olds are overweight, while a quarter are obese. Rates soared during the pandemic, with experts blaming a rise in junk food sales and lower levels of activity.

Campaigners have urged the Government to take action on the health crisis.

Calories added to menus of large businesses and banning junk food from being displayed at prominent store locations are steps already taken this year.

But ministers have postponed the rest of their anti-obesity strategy, which is expected to see junk food adverts banned before 9pm and unhealthy items banned from buy-one-get-one-free deals.

And they are event thought to be reviewing the sugar tax, which charges soft drink makers if their drinks are too sugar-laden, despite it being credited with causing Britons to consume less. 

FESTIVE DRINKS ON SALE AT CAFE CHAINS 
Drink Calories Sugar Price
Starbucks (Grande)
Toffee Nut Cream Cold Brew 248 19.6 £3.90
Praline Cookie Hot Chocolate 346 43.4 £3.65
Caramel Waffle Latte 333 36.7 £3.55
Toffee Nut Latte 284 26.9 £3.55
Gingerbread Latte 312 32.8 £3.55
Eggnog Latte 364 41.2 £3.65
Pret (one size)
Gingerbread Latte 328 27 £3.95
Macaroon Hot Chocolate 395 37.9 £3.95
Praline Latte 326 27.1 £3.95
McDonald’s (regular)
Caramel Waffle Latte 184 21 £2.09
Hot Chocolate Deluxe 201 28 £1.79
Costa (medium)
Latte inspired by Toblerone® 280 25.6 £3.90
Hot Chocolate inspired by Toblerone® 369 38.1 £3.90
Terry’s Chocolate Orange® Hot Chocolate 327 42.2 £3.90
Gingerbread & Cream Latte 280 13.9 £3.70
Gregg’s (regular)
Salted Caramel Latte 225 30 £2.30
Mint Mocha 293 31 £2.30
Mint Hot Chocolate 278 31 £2.30
Caffe Nero (one size)
Cinnamon Swirl Latte 332 23 £4.25
Luxury Black Forest Mocha 384 28.4 £4.25
Salted Caramel Brownie Hot Chocolate 441 42.9 £4.25

 

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