Many of us start our day with a fresh cup of coffee. Some make theirs at home, others go to places like Starbucks and order their favorite morning soda — oops, sorry: “beverage.” That slip up may have been innocent enough, but there is a startling similarity that a can of soda has with your favorite hot morning beverage.
Action on Sugar, a charity that consists of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health, recently analyzed 131 hot drinks. What they found was a third of the beverages contained at least nine teaspoons of sugar. That’s equivalent to a can of Pepsi or Coca-Cola, with some of the most egregious offenders being Starbucks, Costa Coffee, and surprisingly, KFC.
To add some perspective to how much sugar that is, the National Health Service (NHS) in England says that no more than 30 grams of added sugar should be a part of your daily diet. According to this study a Venti–sized Grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon from Starbucks has in excess of 99 grams of sugar — more than three times what the NHS considers the maximum allowed amount.
Not everyone drinks Starbucks, but the ones that do, love Starbucks. So this isn’t a once a week indulgence people have before going to work or during the day. It’s more of an everyday piece of morning bliss before they head into the office. All that sugar adds up in a day when you include the rest of a person’s daily diet, but it also has a cumulative effect onto itself.
Ask Kawther Hashem, one of Action on Sugar’s researchers. Her drink of choice was a large white café mocha with caramel and vanilla syrup, cream on top and chocolate drizzle at Starbucks. These orders never seem simple. Hashem drank these three times a day, seven days a week. Needless to say it eventually took its toll.
“I drastically cut back on these sugary drinks after I was diagnosed with a very high cholesterol level and liver problems three years ago,” Hashem says. “I still have high cholesterol now and was recently diagnosed with a fatty liver — which means it is not working properly — not from alcohol but from sugar.”
Some coffee shops such as Starbucks and Costa have responded to the study by stating that they plan to have reduced sugar in their beverages implemented no later than 2020 — a seemingly far cry from March of 2016. They say this while also somewhat deflecting responsibility. By stating that their nutritional information can be found both in store and on their website, they’re basically telling consumers that we should know what you are getting yourself into when you drink their beverages.
Analysis like this underlines a couple issues many believe have direct connections to the obesity epidemic: Sugar consumption and portion control. Both have increased throughout the years along with the obesity rate. Many would state that this not a coincidence. Some places, like New York City, tried to implement a “Soda Ban” which put restrictions on available sizes of sugary drinks, but it was met swiftly by opposition and eventually rejected. So what’s the answer? What do you think?