Seasonal coffee drinks 'loaded with sugar,' survey finds

There might be more sugar in your coffee than you realize.

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A new survey from the London-based group Action on Sugar found that “festive hot drinks” from popular chains are “loaded with sugar and calories.”

The “worst offender” is Starbucks’ venti signature caramel hot chocolate with whipped cream with oat milk, with more than 23 teaspoons of sugar and 758 calories, according to the group.

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Meanwhile, the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the American Heart Association recommends that Americans cut back on added sugar.

A teaspoon equals a little more than 4 grams.

Holly Gabriel, a registered nutritionist at Action on Sugar, said the findings were “shocking.”

“Coffee shops and cafes need to take much greater steps to reduce the levels of sugar and portion sizes, promote sugar alternatives and stop pushing indulgent extras at the till,” Gabriel said in a press release.

Other sugary Starbucks drinks highlighted by the survey include the seasonal venti gingerbread latte with oat milk, which contains 14 teaspoons of sugar and 523 calories.

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Of course, not everything at Starbucks is so sweet. The company publishes the nutrition information for its beverages. Drinks like a basic cup of coffee, espresso or tea contain no added sugar.

A Starbucks spokesperson told FOX Business that all the company’s beverages “are highly customizable,” meaning customers can choose smaller sizes, nonfat milk and less or no whipped cream.

Even seasonal options like Starbucks’ Christmas blend are available with no added sugar, according to the company. And it offers tips on how to “lighten up your holiday beverage.”

And many Starbucks beverages had less sugar per serving in the recent survey compared to 2016, according to Action on Sugar. Other chains — mostly British ones — had increased the amount of sugar in each serving over the same time period.

The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 100 calories of added sugar each day — about 6 teaspoons. Americans consume an average of nearly 270 calories from added sugar each day, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA recommends using the nutrition facts label on packaged foods to monitor the amount of sugar ingested each day.

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