It has become a tradition for Britain’s cafe chains to launch autumn-themed menus.
However, popular pumpkin spice lattes, flavored hot chocolates, and frappes can have more sugar than four Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Donuts.
Other trendy drinks sold at Starbucks, Pret and Costa can contain almost a quarter of the recommended daily calories for an adult, or the equivalent of eating two Mars bars.
Experts warned that these sugary drinks are “well in excess” of the recommended daily intake, which can lead to people gaining weight without realizing it if they drink sweet drinks regularly.
MailOnline analysis shows that some pumpkin spice blended drinks sold at Starbucks contain more sugar than two original glazed donuts from Krispy Kreme.
MailOnline audited more than 20 drinks included on autumn menus at six chains, including Caffe Nero, McDonald’s and Greggs.
The sugariest option on the high street is the Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino, sold at Starbucks.
A large (medium) size option, which is made with pumpkin-flavored sauce mixed 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 recommended to consume no more than 30g of free sugars per day (those added to foods or drinks, rather than those found naturally).
Eating too much sugar can cause weight gain, which over time increases the risk of heart disease, some cancers, and type 2 diabetes. It can also lead to cavities.
The Starbucks drink, topped with whipped cream and a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves, also contains 370 calories, about 70 calories more than a cheeseburger at McDonald’s.
HOW MUCH SUGAR SHOULD I EAT?
Eating too much sugar can cause weight gain and cavities.
The type of sugar that most adults and children in the UK consume in excess are ‘free sugars’, which include those added to foods and drinks and the sugars in honey, syrup and fruit juices.
But the sugar found naturally in milk, fruits and vegetables does not count as free sugars.
Adults should consume no more than 30 g of free sugars per day, about seven sugar cubes.
Children aged seven to 10 should consume no more than 24g of free sugars (six sugar cubes), while those aged four to six should consume no more than 19g (five sugar cubes).
Eating too much sugar can mean consuming too many calories, leading to weight gain.
Being overweight increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
Sugar is also one of the main causes of cavities.
Health officials advise Britons not to consume more than 150ml of fruit juice and smoothies a day and to limit the amount of foods with high levels of free sugars.
Fountain: National Health Service
But the most caloric autumn drink is the Amaretto hot chocolate sold at Caffe Nero. It is made with cocoa powder, amaretto syrup and steamed milk and is topped with whipped cream and mini almond biscotti.
The drink contains 443 calories and 42.7 g of sugar, which is more calories than a McDonald’s Sausage and Egg McMuffin.
It is almost a quarter of the calories that an adult woman needs per day (2,000) and a fifth of the total that men need (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 more cream or syrups, would only increase the calories and sugar even more.
Pret’s Chocolate Chai, hot chocolate blended with chai spices, contains the most sugar of the chain’s fall drinks, with a whopping 47.3g in a medium drink and 343 calories.
For comparison, a cappuccino of the same size at Caffe Nero contains 106 calories and 8.5 g of sugar.
Packed with toasted hazelnut syrup, maple sauce, whipped cream and crunchy cookie topping, Costa’s Maple Hazel hot chocolate has 343 calories and 47.3g of sugar, which is about 7g more sugar than a hot chocolate normal 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 healthiest fall drink options. It has 184 calories and 21g of sugar, half as much as Starbucks’ fall 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 donut sold at Greggs and two-thirds of the recommended daily sugar intake.
Dietitian Dr Duane Mellor, from Aston University in Birmingham, told MailOnline that many of these drinks “far exceed” the recommended daily sugar guidelines.
It warns that consuming too much sugar increases the risk of weight gain and obesity.
“I don’t think there’s any reason to worry about consuming them as an occasional treat, but of course continuous consumption of large amounts of sugar can have adverse health effects,” says food scientist Professor Gunter Kuhnle.
Professor Kuhnle, from the University of Reading, said weight gain is linked to sugary drinks – people often consume more calories than they realize.
A Costa Coffee spokesperson said: ‘All of our limited edition craft drinks, such as the Maple Hazel range, are only available in small and medium sizes.
‘They can also be customized to have fewer calories and a lower sugar content; For example, remove toppings, opt for a sugar-free syrup, or switch to light whipped cream, which has 75 fewer calories per serving than whipped cream.
“Nutrition information is always available in-store on our menu boards, in our app and online to help customers make the choice that’s right for them.”
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains, according to the NHS.
• Eat at least 5 servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried, and canned fruits and vegetables count
• Base meals are based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains.
• 30 grams of fiber per day: This is equivalent to eating all of the following: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 whole grain crackers, 2 thick slices of whole wheat bread, and one large baked potato with skin.
• Eat some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks) by choosing low-fat, low-sugar options.
• Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 servings of fish each week, one of which should be fatty)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume them in small amounts
• Drink 6 to 8 cups/glasses of water a day
• Adults should consume less than 6 g of salt and 20 g of saturated fat for women or 30 g for men per day.
Fountain: NHS Eatwell Guide