THEY have become a staple part of the commercial Christmas season - the coffee shop “festive drinks” which go on sale from November and claim to offer tasty cheer during the winter months.
But a report has revealed that some of the Christmas themed drinks created by cafe chains this year contain as much as 14 teaspoons of sugar.
Caffè Nero’s Belgian truffle hot chocolate contains the most sugar of the drinks analysed by online retailer onbuy.com, at 56.9g – almost twice the recommended daily sugar allowance for an adult and equivalent to approximately 14 teaspoons of sugar. Another Caffè Nero special was the second most sugary: its winter spiced hot chocolate which contains 51.6g of sugar.
Meanwhile, Pret a Manger’s orange hot chocolate is the most calorific in the survey, with 454 calories, followed by their mint hot chocolate with 452 calories.
Health campaigners have criticised the drinks, warning that consumers should regard them as an “occasional treat”.
Kawther Hashem, registered nutritionist and researcher for Action on Sugar said: “Coffee shop chains must reduce the amount of sugar in these hot drinks and have nutrition labelling available to all customers.
“These hot flavoured drinks should be an occasional treat, not an ‘everyday’ drink. They are laden with an unbelievable amount sugar and calories and are often accompanied by a high sugar snack. It is not surprising that we still have high rates of tooth decay.”
By comparing each festive hot treat, online retailer OnBuy.com analysed the number of calories and grams of sugar in each festive hot drink from information available on companies’s websites.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, out of the top 10 calorific and sugary festive hot drinks, seven are based on hot chocolate, while overall, 55 per cent of the drinks contain more than the recommended daily intake of sugar.
For the research, the drinks selected contained semi-skimmed milk and the cup size opted for was regular, which represents roughly 12 oz.
At the other end of the scale, Caffè Nero’s Salted Caramel Latte has just 24.6g of sugar – equivalent to around six teaspoons of sugar - and still using up an adult’s recommended sugar intake in one sitting.
The award for the Christmas hot drink with as little sugar as possible during an overly indulgent period was achieved by Costa, with their caramelised orange latte – which contains just over five teaspoons of sugar at 20.5g. A Salted Caramel Latte is the best way to enjoy festive drinks without high calorie content, as Greggs offer one with 240 calories, whilst Caffè Nero takes the crown for the hot drink with the lowest number of calories at 153.
Cas Paton, managing director of OnBuy.com, said: “While Christmas is considered the perfect time to indulge and not worry as much about calories and other nutritional values, it’s still good to be aware that there are ‘healthier’ options when visiting your local coffee shop for one of your favourite festive hot drinks.
“The fact that 55 per cent of the drinks looked at by OnBuy contain more than your recommended daily intake of sugar is enough to stop you from piling on the festive pounds.”
A spokeswoman for Pret a Manger said: “Our Christmas hot drinks are delicious and indulgent, and are intended to be enjoyed as an occasional treat. The nutritional information provided includes whipped cream on top, however customers can request their hot drink without cream if preferred.”
Caffe Nero has not yet responded to a request for comment.