High street chain autumn drinks have more sugar than TWO doughnuts

Autumnal drinks sold at Starbucks, Pret and Costa can have more sugar than FOUR doughnuts and be as calorific as TWO Mars bars

  • EXCLUSIVE: Starbucks pumpkin drinks contain more sugar than four doughnuts
  • Experts warn theses sugar drinks can cause tooth decay and lead to obesity 

It’s become a tradition for Britain’s high street cafe chains to release autumn themed menus. 

However, popular pumpkin spiced lattes, flavoured hot chocolates and frappes can have more sugar than four Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnuts.

Other trendy drinks sold at the likes of Starbucks, Pret and Costa can contain almost a quarter of an adult’s recommended daily calories — or the equivalent to eating two Mars bars. 

Experts warned these sugary drinks are ‘well in excess’ of daily recommended in intake, which may lead to people unwittingly gaining weight if they regularly drink the sweet beverages.

MailOnline analysis shows that some pumpkin spice blended drinks sold at Starbucks contain more sugar than two Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnuts

MailOnline audited more than 20 drinks released on autumn menus at six chains, including Caffe Nero, McDonald’s and Greggs.

The most sugary option on the high street is the Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino, sold at Starbucks. 

A grande (medium) sized option — which is made from pumpkin flavour sauce blended with coffee, milk and ice — contains a whopping 51.3g of sugar. This is equivalent to eating about 12 sugar cubes or five Freddo chocolate bars. 

Adults are advised to have no more than 30g of free sugars per day — those added to food or drinks, rather than those naturally found. 

Eating too much sugar can cause weight gain, which over time raises the risk of heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes. It can also cause tooth decay. 

The Starbucks drink — which is topped with whipped cream and a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves — also contains 370 calories, which is about 70 calories more than a cheeseburger at McDonald’s. 


Eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain and tooth decay.

The type of sugars most adults and children in the UK eat too much of are ‘free sugars’, which includes any added to food and drink and sugars in honey, syrup and fruit juice.

But sugar found naturally in milk, fruit and vegetables do not count as free sugars.

Adults are not supposed to have more than 30g of free sugars a day – around seven sugar cubes. 

Children aged seven to 10 should have no more than 24g of free sugars (six sugar cubes), while those aged four to six should not have more than 19g (five sugar cubs). 

Eating too much sugar can mean consuming too many calories, leading to weight gain. 

Being overweight increases the risk of suffering heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

Sugar is also one of the main causes of tooth decay.

Health chiefs advise Britons to have no more than a 150ml glass of fruit juice and smoothies per day and limit the amount of foods with high levels of free sugars.

Source: NHS

But the most calorific autumn-themed drink is the Amaretto Hot Chocolate sold at Caffe Nero. It is made from cocoa powder, amaretto syrup and steamed milk and is topped with whipped cream and mini almond biscotti.

The beverage contains 443 calories and 42.7g of sugar — that’s more calories than a McDonald’s Sausage and Egg McMuffin.

It’s almost a quarter of the calories an adult woman needs a day (2,000) and a fifth of the total needed by men (2,500) to maintain their weight.

This website’s analysis focused on the medium versions of the drinks. Opting for a large cup, or choosing extra cream or syrups, would only push the calories and sugar even higher. 

Pret’s Chocolate Chai — hot chocolate mixed with chai spices — contains the most sugar out of the chain’s autumnal drinks, with a huge amount 47.3g in a medium drink and 343 calories. 

For comparison, a cappuccino of the same size at Caffe Nero contains 106 calories and 8.5g of sugar. 

Costa’s Maple Hazel Hot Chocolate — packed with roasted hazelnut syrup, maple sauce, whipped cream and crunchy biscuit topping — has 343 calories and 47.3g of sugar, which is about 7g more sugar than a regular hot chocolate of the same size.

Greggs Hazelnut Mocha — made with coffee beans, steamed milk, cocoa, hazelnut syrup and whipped cream — is also high in sugar (32g) and calories (332). 

That’s more calories than a Greggs Sausage Roll and more than double the amount of sugar in a Yum Yum from the chain. 

McDonald’s seasonal drink, the Caramel Waffle Latte, is among the healthier options for autumnal drinks. It has 184 calories and 21g of sugar — half that of the Starbucks autumnal option.

Similarly, Pret’s Pumpkin Spice Latte contains 170 calories and 24.2g of sugar.

But, this is still more sugar than a triple chocolate doughnut sold at Greggs and two thirds of the daily recommended sugar intake. 

Dietitian Dr Duane Mellor, based at Aston University in Birmingham, told MailOnline many of these drinks are ‘well in excess’ of daily recommended sugar guidelines. 

He warns that consuming too much sugar increases the risk of weight gain and obesity.

‘I don’t think there is any reason to worry about consuming them as an occasional treat, but of course continuous consumption of high amounts of sugar can have adverse effects on health,’ says food scientist Professor Gunter Kuhnle. 

Professor Kuhnle, based at reading University, said weight gain is linked with sugary drinks,  people often consume more calories than they realise. 

A Costa Coffee spokesperson said: ‘All our limited-edition, hand-crafted drinks, such as the Maple Hazel range, are only available in small and medium sizes. 

‘They can also be customised to have fewer calories and lower sugar content; for example, removing toppings, opting for a sugar-free syrup, or switching to a Light Whip – that has 75 fewer calories per serving than Whipped Cream.

‘Nutritional information is always available in-store on our menu boards, on our app, and online to help customers make the decision that is right for them.’ 


Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS

• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count

• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain

• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on

• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options

• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts

• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day

• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide 

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