Retailers should be banned from including sugary drinks and snacks in their lunchtime meal deals, Action on Sugar claims.

A number of meal deals sold by leading supermarkets and neighbourhood retailers contained up to 30 teaspoons of sugar, according to a new report by the health lobby group.

It wants stores to exclude all drinks and snacks that have a ‘red’ traffic light label from their lunchtime meal deals and for the government to take action against those who don’t.

According to a survey carried out by the group, WHSmith is the store with the highest amount of sugar in one of its meal deals, closely followed by Tesco, Morrisons and The Co-op.

Action on Sugar also slammed WHSmith for “not even providing healthy snack options i.e. fresh fruit as part of its meal deals.”

Chairman Graham MacGregor, who is also professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London, said: “Eating too much sugar is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer and tooth decay.

“Supermarkets pretend to be on the side of their customer’s health to encourage loyalty, but this survey clearly shows that they are not. The government now needs to take decisive action to ban all promotions of unhealthy foods.”

Gavin Partington, director general at the British Soft Drinks Association, said the industry was already playing its part in sugar reduction.

“The soft drinks industry recognises it has role to play in sugar reduction which is why we have been investing in reformulation for many years. Since 2013 we have reduced sugar intake from our products by 17%.

“As well as reformulating our products, we have increased the range of portion sizes available to include smaller pack sizes; we have switched marketing spend to lower and no sugar products; and we provide clear ‘front of pack’ nutrition labelling. As an industry we remain committed to working with government to help consumers make informed choices.”