Has Your Christmas Coffee Just Got Healthier?

There may be less sugar in your favourite Christmas hot drink this year, but don’t celebrate just yet!

Some of the most popular coffee chains in the UK have recently announced they are reducing the amount of sugar in their seasonal hot drinks. This is great news, especially as one chain in particular has withdrawn its popular chocolate fudge hot chocolate which had around 27 teaspoons of sugar.

But are these companies doing enough to help us look after their teeth and gums – not to mention our overall health?

“To know that some of our favourite festive coffees and hot chocolates are going to have as much as 20-40% less sugar is fantastic news,” says Dr Henry Clover, our Chief Dental Officer. “However, this does not apply to every Christmas-themed hot drink or to every retailer. The fact remains that many of these drinks still contain a lot of sugar, which is fine if you have one as a treat, but not great if you get into the habit of having them on a regular basis. Whenever we have something sugary to eat or drink, bacteria in our mouths produce acids that can cause tooth decay; and a diet which is high in sugar is also linked to other health problems such as obesity and diabetes."

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Watch our video from 2015 to see how much sugar could have been hiding in your Christmas coffee cup!

Research conducted earlier this year by YouGov on behalf Denplan*, 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. The survey revealed that only a third of UK adults (34%) think that retailers and food companies do enough to inform them of how much sugar is in food and drinks. Of those who disagreed that retailers and food companies do enough, 74% said retailers and food companies should reduce the overall sugar content in food and drinks.

But with a reduction of sugar content in some festive beverages, should we be avoiding these festive beverages?

Current guidelines** recommend that added sugars in our daily diet should not exceed more than five percent of the calorie intake that we get from food and drink each day. This means no more than about 30g of sugar a day for those aged 11 years and over. So, when you consider that some of these festive coffees, such as a gingerbread latte, could be weighing in at anything between 20-39g of sugar (depending on the size and type of milk you choose), it is easy to see that these drinks are still have a high sugar content.

“The key, as with all things, is moderation,” adds 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.”

Of course, being more aware of how much sugar is in a favourite drink or snack helps us to make informed decisions. Whether that means we opt for a sugar-free alternative or skip the accompanying slice of cake, knowing how much sugar we are eating and drinking – and how it can impact our oral health – enables us to take control of our health and wellbeing.

*Denplan/YouGov Survey January 2016. The survey was carried out online. Total sample size was 5,152 adults. Please note, as of February 2017, Denplan have rebranded as Simplyhealth Professionals.

** http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/1139.aspx?categoryid=51