Festive hot drinks ‘loaded’ with sugar, high street survey finds

Festive hot drinks ‘loaded’ with sugar, high street survey finds
Courtesy of Starbucks

Festive hot drinks are a popular Christmas past time but despite the government’s voluntary sugar reduction programme, many high street coffee chains are failing to reduce the sugar content in their festive milk and milk-alternative hot drinks despite efforts and advice from government and health groups.

A new nationwide survey from pressure group Action on Sugar analysed both the sugar and calorie content of the largest available sizes of hot chocolates and seasonal lattes made with milk and milk alternatives by popular high street chains.

The survey revealed that many festive hot beverages contain “huge” amounts of sugar with one example – Starbucks Signature Caramel Hot Chocolate with whipped cream, using Oat Milk – containing 23 teaspoons.

With the prevalence of dairy-free options, many consumers are opting for milk substitutes in believing them to be healthier options. However, the survey reveals that the “health halo” of vegan options and misleading labelling is leading to consumers unwitting consuming “excessive” sugar.

All of the largest available portion size products surveyed would receive a red traffic light for total sugars with just one exception, the pressure group said.

Action on Sugar is now calling on the next government to extend its soft drinks industry levy to sugary milk and milk-alternative based drinks. For the food industry specifically, it is calling for the immediate use of milks and syrups with no added sugar.