U.K. Group Shines Light on the Piles of Sugar in Popular Drinks

U.K. Group Shines Light on the Piles of Sugar in Popular Drinks
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When I was a young adult, unmarried, living at home, and trying to balance life as a night owl with a day job that started before 9 a.m., I regularly dumped 2 full spoonfuls of sugar into my coffee at a time, and my mother would look at me in horror and gasp, “That’s too much!” And she was right.

But that ain’t nuthin‘ compared to the amount of sugar you get in a Starbucks specialty drink – which, once upon a time, was a regular “treat” for me. 

The British campaign group Action on Sugar (AoS) is warning that many of your cafe favorites – mochas, chai lattes (once my favorite – the mourning is real), hot chocolate and other coffee beverages contain up to 25 teaspoons of sugar – the equivalent of 3 cans of Coca-Cola. That’s more than 12 cups of my formerly regular coffee sugar allowance. [1]

That’s, like, a diabetic coma.

AoS surveyed 131 hot drinks from U.K. coffee chains and fast food outlets, including ones that also exist in the U.S., including Starbucks, KFC, Dunkin’ Donuts, and McDonald’s. According to the group, 98% of the flavored beverages they analyzed have excessive levels of sugar per serving, and 35% contained 9 or more teaspoons of sugar. While Aos focused on companies in the U.K., nutritional information published online shows that sugar levels are about the same in the U.S. and elsewhere. [2]

Starbucks’ worst of the worst was its hot mulled grape with chai, orange, and cinnamon, which came in at exactly 25 teaspoons of sugar. The chain’s vanilla latte and caramel macchiato each contain more than 8 teaspoons.

Still, like a diabetic coma.

Read: 9 Reasons to Avoid Starbucks’ Fake Pumpkin Latte

Dunkin’ Donuts’ claims that “the world runs” on its coffee, and by the looks of the sugar content in some of its drinks, customers could probably run across the country before having a massive “sugar crash.” For example, Dunkin’ Donuts vanilla chai is laden with 11 teaspoons of sugar, and a hot macchiato contains 7 teaspoons. 

Check out this short vine video visually showing what we’re dealing with here.

AoS was not lovin’ McDonald’s large mocha beverages, which were found to be loaded with 11 teaspoons of sugar. [3]

Kawther Hashem, a researcher for AoS told CNN Money:

“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.”

Speaking to The GuardianHashem said:

“They are laden with an unbelievable amount of sugar and calories and are often accompanied by a high sugar and fat snack. It is not surprising that we have the highest rate of obesity in Europe.

Our advice to consumers is to have a plain hot drink or ask for your drink to contain a minimal amount of syrup, preferably sugar-free, in the smallest serving size available.”

Image sourced from Money.CNN
Image sourced from Money.CNN

The Action on Sugar has called on the coffee chains to stop serving extra-large cups of sugary drinks, but focused most of its ire on Starbucks, because it offers much larger serving sizes than its competitors.

A Starbucks spokesperson said in defense of the company:

“Earlier this year we committed to reduce added sugar in our indulgent drinks by 25 per cent by the end of 2020.

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.” [4]

Read: Splenda Found to Reduce Friendly Gut Bacteria Significantly

You can see the full list of sickeningly sweet offenders by clicking here.



[1] The Guardian

[2] Mashable

[3] CNN Money

[4] CNBC