Think before you drink those coffee chain holiday beverages…

The Grinch is always trying ruin Christmas, and this year it seems he is trying to steal the fun from the festive seasonal drinks on coffeehouse menus! A new study from Kent Express has revealed the ‘most sugary’ holiday drinks, one of which contains double the recommended daily allowance.

Starbucks, McDonald’s, Caffè Nero, Costa Coffee and Pret a Manger all have holiday drink menus, but some chains’ options contain double the sugar content of others. The findings, collated and analysed by the United Kingdom’s leading mail-order dental supplier, Kent Express, found that McDonald’s Hot Chocolate Deluxe has the lowest number of calories at 201 and 28 grams of sugar (and 6.5g fat) while Costa Coffee’s Black Forest Hot Chocolate & Cream, has 420 calories and 31.3 grams of sugar.

Caffè Nero’s Mint Choc Chip Hot Chocolate tops the leaderboard with the highest number of calories – 468 and sugar content, 63.5 grams – the equivalent of 15 sugar cubes. To burn off this calorific hot drink, Kent Express reports that a consumer would need to run for over 40 minutes on average or walk for 1.5 hours.

According to the NHS, more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g is considered high and 18 out of the 20 drinks include 22.5g of sugar and over, with the Caffè Nero Mint Choc Chip Hot Chocolate three times over this value.

Chart source: Kent Express

Many coffee chains have released several new additions to their menus this year that take consumers’ growing desire to be healthier into consideration. So, for those consumers who ‘fancy a festive drink’ but are conscious of the sugar, the Costa Gingerbread Latte and Cream has the lowest amount of sugar (14g), while the McDonald’s Hot Chocolate Deluxe and Caffè Nero’s Salted Caramel Latte have the lowest number of calories.

Starbucks has launched the most extensive drinks menu, with eight options in total, including lattes, hot chocolates and frappuccinos, while McDonald’s has the fewest drinks options with a total of two.

Chris Moffatt, dental expert at Kent Express, said, “Everyone looks forward to letting their hair down at Christmas, but it’s good to make informed choices about what we eat and drink. Around one in three adults in the UK have signs of tooth decay, which can lead to more serious health problems. Many dental practices close over the Christmas period, so it can be hard to get a dental appointment.” He added that when indulging in a sugary drink, try to have it with a meal, use a straw, and drink some water straight afterwards. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily and keeping up to date with your regular dental check-ups is also essential.”

Registered nutritionist Dr Kawther Hashem, campaign lead at Action on Sugar, noted that sugar not only lacks nutritional benefits, but eating (or drinking) too much of it leads to weight gain and raises the risk of type 2 diabetes. “Sugar is also, without doubt, a huge factor in tooth decay. It is therefore shocking that so many coffee chains are still willfully putting their customers’ health at risk,” Hashem said, adding, “in our Festive Drinks Survey in December 2019, we found Caffè Nero’s Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (Grande), made with skimmed milk, contained nearly 15 teaspoons of sugar (59.6g) and 503 calories. An average person would have to do 90 minutes on the cross trainer to work this energy off!”

The holiday drinks are limited seasonal offerings so do not let the Grinch grab your merry this season, but perhaps consume those festive drinks in moderation or customize them with lower or non-fat milk, less pumps of the sugary syrup, light whipped cream and skip the toppings!

Just a reminder that our tea sustainability survey is live and can be accessed here.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season!

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