Concerns over seasonal beverages containing a large amount of sugar have risen this week after a study found that the incidence of tooth decay rises at an alarming rate with sugar consumption. Health experts warn consumers to beware of the sugar content in what is considered to be the “token” drink of fall, the pumpkin spice latte. As coffee shops across the nation announce the arrival of the seasonal beverage, consumers should note the so-called pumpkin latte very rarely contains any pumpkin.
The study was published in the journal BMC Health and the researchers made use of public health records to make comparisons between dental health and dietary preferences. Tooth decay effects between 60 and 90 percent of all schoolchildren. 90 percent of adults have experienced a problem in at least one tooth.
The warm, sweetened, coffee beverages may smell like pumpkin, they may even have an orange tint, however in most cases the aroma, color and pumpkin taste are a result of artificial flavors and food colorings. MacDonald’s Pumpkin Spice Latte in a medium serving size will deliver 340 calories. The whole milk used to make the drink can provide consumers with some beneficial nutrients and essential fat-soluble vitamins such as A and D. The fat content of the drink is not what should concern consumers as much as the nature of the artificial additions and sugars that the drinks contain.
With fructose being the main ingredient in the pumpkin spice syrup, closely followed by a mix of artificial flavors and annatto, it is clear that no pumpkin has been close to the seasonal offering. Thickening agents and preservatives however, are a regular ingredient.
MacDonalds offerings, unlike those of Dunkin’ Donuts, do not contain high fructose corn syrup. Dunkin’ Donuts offer a saving in calories by opting to use skim milk over whole. This however is a deceptive saving. Most nutritionists agree that whole milk is a better option in terms of nutrient value, and that saving calories should not be the goal when it comes to a balanced diet. In order to make up for the reduction in silky creamy taste that using skim milk over whole results in, Dunkin’ Donuts have had to increase the amount of artificial sweeteners and flavors in the drink.
In light of the recent research into sugar and tooth decay, Professor Philip James, past President of the World Obesity Federation, has put forward a recommendation that all food manufacturers should be required to reformulate their products and attempt to remove all the added sugar. James also believes that products high in sugar should be clearly labeled as such.
Dunkin’ Donuts do inform consumers that the syrup they use is “pumpkin flavored,” implying that it is not actually derived from pumpkin. Starbucks too offer a seasonal pumpkin beverage that will provide consumers with approximately 37 grams of sugar in a singe medium serving. Nutritional guidelines state that Americans should try to consumer less than 25 grams of sugar each day.
Health experts with concerns over increasing rates tooth decay as a result of sugar consumption have warned that consumers should be wary when it comes to seasonal beverages like the pumpkin spice latte. In most cases, these drinks have very little positive nutritional value.
By Tabitha Farrar, Guardian Liberty Voice, 9/19/14