Flavored drinks sold by chains like Starbucks may contain up to a whopping 25 teaspoons of sugar, according to a new analysis by a British campaign group Action on Sugar.
“This is yet again another example of scandalous amount of sugar added to our food and drink,” Action on Sugar Chairman Graham MacGregor said in the report.
The report flagged 98 percent of hot flavored drinks from major coffee chains in the U.K. for containing excessive levels of sugar, with 35 percent having 9 teaspoons of sugar or more. Although the focus of the study was on drinks sold in the U.K., the nutritional information found on the companies’ websites show that the amount of sugar used is similar in the U.S. and in other countries.
Seven of the 10 drinks with the most sugar are sold at Starbucks. At the top of the list was a venti hot mulled fruit drink flavored with grape, chai, orange and cinnamon, clocking in at 25 teaspoons of sugar per serving. A venti white chocolate mocha with whipped cream has 18 teaspoons of sugar; a venti chai latte has 13; and the seasonal pumpkin spice latte has 10.
Other chains analyzed also served sugary drinks with enormous amounts of sugar. The worst offender at KFC was its mocha, which has 15 teaspoons of sugar per serving. McDonalds’ large mocha contains 11 teaspoons of sugar. Other chains that also made the list were Caffè Nero and Pret a Manger.
Although Dunkin’ Donuts wasn’t surveyed because it doesn’t have shops in the U.K., many of its drinks that are sold in the U.S. have tons of sugar, according to the nutritional information found on its website. A medium vanilla chai has over 11 teaspoons of sugar, while a large caramel iced coffee has more than 12.
The report includes a comprehensive plan in which it recommends all unhealthy food and drink reduce their sugar and fat content by 50 and 20 percent, respectively. It also suggests a 20 percent tax on all sugar-sweetened drinks and a ban on any advertisements of unhealthy food and drink aimed at children.
In response to the survey, a Starbucks spokesperson said that the chain plans to cut added sugar in its drinks by 25 percent by the end of 2020. “We also offer a wide variety of lighter options, sugar-free syrups and sugar-free natural sweeter, and we display all nutrition information in-store and online,” the spokesperson said.