Pouring Coca Cola

Action On Sugar is calling for new targets on reformulation

Action On Sugar today launched a new attack on the “shocking” sugar content of fizzy drinks.

It claimed 79% of sugary fizzy drinks contained six or more teaspoons of sugar per can (350ml) and that nine out of 10 would receive a red traffic light for sugars if their suppliers were signed up to the Department of Health (DH) labelling scheme.

The campaign group, which is calling for statutory targets on reformulation and a sugar tax, even attacked Coca-Cola’s new Cola-Cola Life product, which has one-third less sugar than the mainstream Coke product, saying it “still contains more than four teaspoons of sugar, one quarter of a child’s recommended daily intake”.

“We need to reduce overall sweetness so people’s tastes can adjust to having less sweet drink”

Professor Graham MacGregor

The survey analysed 232 sugar-sweetened drinks in supermarkets and found more than half would contain more sugar per can than is recommended for a child, teenager or adult for a whole day based on the new WHO draft guidelines for sugar.

Action On Sugar chairman Professor Graham MacGregor said: “Added sugars are completely unnecessary in our diets and are strongly linked to obesity and Type II Diabetes, as well as to dental caries.

“We urge the secretary of state for health, Jeremy Hunt MP, to set incremental targets for sugar reduction now – and to start with these sugary drinks. Replacing sugar with sweeteners is not the answer: we need to reduce overall sweetness so people’s tastes can adjust to having less sweet drinks.”

However, Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, accused Action On Sugar of being “blinded by political zeal”.

“These campaigners appear to have missed the 60% of soft drinks on the market which contain no added sugar,” he said. “Perhaps unsurprisingly, they have also ignored the evidence that shows obesity arises from an imbalance of calories consumed and calories expended and is not caused by one particular ingredient.

“Soft drinks manufacturers have led the way over many years in providing an increasing range of low- and no-calorie drinks. It’s worth remembering that government figures show soft drinks contribute just 3% of calories to the average diet.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said it was pleased with the actions companies such as Coca-Cola were taking. “We are pleased by the actions businesses are taking to reduce calories as part of the Responsibility Deal and encourage others to provide consumers with healthier choices.”