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How much sugar is in your Christmas coffee? Gingerbread Lattes aren't so merry for your teeth

Published 17/12/2015

Are you a frequent visitor to the likes of Starbucks for a festive beverage fix?

As we trek around the shops at Christmas a coffee break is always welcome and well-deserved.

The Starbucks Gingerbread Latte phenomenon along with other major chains such as Caffe Nero, Costa among others sparked a craze as they all began to add a festive twist to the classics.

But it seems the seasonal favourite could be less than merry for your teeth as it is revealed that just one caramel fudge hot chocolate contains up to 24 teaspoons of sugar.

Social media is generally ablaze with photos of coffee lovers clutching their coveted drinks but would they be so keen if they knew how much sugar they contain on average?

The Christmas favourite Gingerbread Latte contains 12 teaspoons of sugar but that's mild compared to some - as a standard Eggnog Latte  contains 17 teaspoons of sugar, rivalled only by the Sticky Toffee Latte with a staggering 18.

And if these drinks are accompanied by cakes or other sweet treats, the amount of sugar consumed can double.

Research from Denplan has warned that people might not be aware of the quantity of sugar in the hot drinks.

Deputy Chief Dental Officer Henry Clover said: "Many of the festive coffees, lattes and hot chocolates that we looked at across a range of high street coffee chains contained, on average, around 12 to 18 teaspoons of sugar in their largest portion sizes.

"One caramel fudge hot chocolate from a popular coffee chain even contained a shocking 24 teaspoons of sugar – that’s the equivalent to around two and a half cans of cola.

“As a one-off treat, a sugary festive drink won’t do you any harm, but if you get into the habit of frequently consuming high levels of sugar, this may cause tooth decay. Every time we eat or drink something sugary, bacteria in our mouths produce acids that can cause tooth decay. A high sugar diet is also linked to other health problems such as obesity and diabetes.”

Denplan highlights that the vast amounts of sugar found in high street coffee chain beverages is especially concerning in light of guidelines from the World Health Organisation published earlier this year.

The WHO suggests that adults should consume no more than 12 teaspoons of ‘free’ sugars a day, but should really be aiming for six.

‘Free’ sugars refer to sugar that is added to foods and drinks, as well as things like honey and fruit juices.

In addition, research conducted earlier this year by YouGov on behalf of Denplan also suggests that consumers would welcome knowing more about the levels of sugar found in their food and drinks, and would even like to see an overall reduction in sugar content.

So are there any healthier options for a festive beverage this Christmas?

Fear not - as it's all about enjoying things in moderation, says Denplan.

“It’s certainly not all doom and gloom for the Yuletide season – it’s all about being informed and enjoying things in moderation,” said Henry.

“Opting for a peppermint tea or an Americano coffee or plain latte with sugar-free syrup can warm you up without the added sugar.

“If you do decide to sample a speciality coffee during the festive period, make sure you’re aware of the sugar content before you order, and try to drink this as part of a balanced meal.”

Online Editors

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