Nutrition Experts: The Sugar Content in These Starbucks Drinks Is ‘Shocking’

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A U.K. study looked at the sugar content of flavored hot drinks served by the U.S. coffee giant and other major chains. See if your favorite drink is among the worst offenders.

Before you order your next venti white chocolate mocha with whipped cream from Starbucks, consider this: You’re consuming nearly 18 teaspoons of sugar! That’s the same as downing two cans of Coke.


But the white chocolate mocha is just one of several Starbucks drinks that contain what British health advocacy group Action on Sugar calls a “shocking” amount of sugar.

The group examined the sugar content of 131 flavored hot drinks sold in the U.K. (many of which are also sold in the United States) and found that 98 percent of those sold at major coffee chains have excessive levels of sugar.

It’s “yet again another example of scandalous amounts of sugar added to our food and drink,” said Graham MacGregor, chairman of Action on Sugar and professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London.

Starbucks was the worst offender. Not only did the coffee giant’s hot mulled fruit drink – which is a spiced grape with chai, orange and cinnamon sold in the U.K. – top the list of the most sugar-laden drinks with a whopping 25 teaspoons of sugar, but six other Starbucks drinks were also included on the list of the top 10 most sugary drinks.

“These hot flavored drinks should be an occasional treat, not an ‘everyday’ drink,” says Kawther Hashem, a registered nutritionist and researcher for Action on Sugar. “They are laden with an unbelievable amount sugar and calories and are often accompanied by a high sugar and fat snack.”

Action on Sugar says Starbucks has pledged to reduce added sugar in its “indulgent 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 sweetener, and we display all nutritional information in-store and online,” a Starbucks spokesperson said.

Health experts link excessive sugar consumption to a variety of health problems, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.

The American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day. It says women should limit their daily added-sugar consumption to 6 teaspoons.

Action on Sugar not only wants to see a reduction in the sugar and fat in unhealthy drinks and foods in the U.K., but it’s also requesting a 20 percent tax on sugary drinks and a ban on marketing unhealthy drinks and foods to children and adolescents.

Check out “7 Tips for Breaking Your Addiction to Sugar.”

Do you drink sugary beverages? Are you surprised to see how much sugar some Starbucks beverages have? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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Read Next: 7 Tips for Breaking Your Addiction to Sugar

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