Without a doubt, one of the best things about Christmas is the fact that you can get away with basically eating what you want just by using the all-encompassing phrase: “It’s Christmas.”
But while ramping up your calorie intake tastes good, those lovely indulgent festive drinks have been found to contain as many as 23 teaspoons of sugar in. You just wouldn’t consider having that much in a normal hot drink would you?
Dieticians at Action on Sugar have looked into more than 200 drinks and found ‘shockingly’ high amounts of sugar in a lot of them.
The worst offender was a ‘venti’ Starbucks Signature Caramel Hot Chocolate made with oat milk. Topped with whipped cream, it clocked a shocking 93.7g of sugar – the equivalent of 23 teaspoons. Action on Sugar says it’s the equivalent of drinking three cans of full-sugar Coca-Cola or four white chocolate and strawberry muffins.
Next up was Caffe Nero’s Grande Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, with skimmed milk. This delicious drink of dreams contained nearly 15 teaspoons of sugar and 503 calories – that’s about the same amount of calories as you’d get in a Big Mac.
The third worst offender was also from Starbucks. Its venti Gingerbread Latte – again made with oat milk – contained 14 teaspoons of sugar and at 523 calories significantly exceeds the calories in a festive bake from Greggs.
Holly Gabriel, Registered Nutritionist at Action on Sugar, says: “It is shocking that so many high street coffee chains are willfully putting their customers’ health at risk despite sugar reduction targets for sugary milk drinks being set in 2018.
“Responsible coffee shops have shown reformulation is possible within this category. For example, Costa have made some significant reductions in sugar since 2016 and some now offer smaller sizes as standard for seasonal drinks.
“Coffee shops and cafes need to take much greater steps to reduce the levels of sugar and portion sizes, promote lower sugar alternatives and stop pushing indulgent extras at the till.”
The extra calories and sugar in festive drinks often come from the flavoured syrups that are added – it’s worth checking with your server whether they have a sugar free version.
A spokesperson for Starbucks told the BBC: “We are committed to reducing sugar in all our beverages and since 2015 we’ve delivered a 9% reduction in the sugar content of our gingerbread and core syrup range of vanilla, caramel and hazelnut.”