Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine - Barts and The London


A national survey by Action on Sugar has found that some festive hot beverages contain almost as much sugar as three cans of Coca Cola, but these milk-based drinks remain exempt from the soft drinks industry levy.

3 December 2019

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Action on Sugar, based in the Wolfson Institute at Queen Mary University of London, conducted the survey analysing both the sugar and calorie content of the largest available sizes of hot chocolates and seasonal lattes made with milk and milk alternatives (ie. oat, almond, coconut, soya, rice-coconut) by popular high street chains.

Many high street coffee chains are failing to make progress towards Public Health England’s voluntary sugar reduction targets with their festive milk and milk alternative hot beverages. The worst offender, the Starbucks Signature Caramel Hot Chocolate with whipped cream, using Oat Milk (Venti) contains 23 teaspoons of sugar (758 calories) – the same as four white chocolate and strawberry muffins.

Consumers looking for alternatives to cow’s milk are unknowingly consuming excessive sugar due to lack of labelling and the ‘health halo’ of vegan options.

Despite being blasted for their high sugar content in Action on Sugar’s hot beverage survey in 2016, more than one in four (27%) directly comparable products had seen no decrease in sugar, and have in fact increased.