Liverpool City Council has become the first local authority in the country to publicly ‘name and shame’ a number of popular sugary soft drinks brands.
Entitled: “Is your child’s sweet tooth harming their health?”, the new public health campaign outlines how many sugar cubes are in best-selling drinks such as Lucozade, Coca Cola, Tropicana, Capri-Sun and Ribena.
Large, eye-catching cut outs of bottles, which highlight their sugar content, are being placed in high-footfall public areas and buildings such as children’s centres, doctors surgeries and hospitals.
Lucozade 500ml contains 15.5 cubes of sugar while an equivalent bottle of Coca-Cola has 13.5 cubes, according to the campaign – this is against a recommended NHS maximum daily allowance of five to seven cubes for children depending upon their age.
Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA), said the campaign was unfairly targeting the drinks industry.
“If this were a genuine education campaign to reduce sugar intake then surely it would look at all sources of sugar consumption and not just target soft drinks which is the only food category where sugar intake is actually falling year on year – 13.6% since 2012,” he said.
“Soft drinks companies are taking practical steps to help consumers - reducing the sugar in their products, increasing the availability of smaller pack sizes, actively promoting low and no calorie options and voluntarily extending the advertising rules regarding children to all online media.
“Government data and analysis from independent sources shows that consumers are already reducing their sugar intake from soft drinks and are actively switching to low or no calorie alternatives.
“We are also the only industry with an ambitious plan for the years ahead – in 2015 we agreed a calorie reduction goal of 20% by 2020.”
A spokewoman for Lucozade and Ribena manufacturer Suntory, said: “Lucozade Ribena Suntory is a responsible drinks manufacturer and takes the issue of consumer health seriously. We are also committed to marketing our heritage brands responsibly, and as part of a voluntary soft-drinks industry pledge we do not to advertise or market any drink categorised as HFSS (high fat, sugar, salt) to under 16s.
“To meet the needs of consumers we have introduced no added sugar or reduced sugar variants of our most popular drinks in recent years. Lucozade Energy is a glucose based drink that is marketed to consumers aged 16 and above. In addition to the original Energy range, there is now a Zero version available, as well as Reduced Sugar flavours.”
Liverpool City Council’s director of public health, Dr Sandra Davies, said it was important that parents had the facts to make decisions about which drinks to give their children.
“Many of us are not in the habit of studying labels on drinks and the evidence that we have is that people don’t realise how much sugar is in them, so we are taking steps to support them to make healthier choices,” she added.
Parents are being urged to switch their children to water, low fat milk and sugar-free drinks.
The posters outline the number of sugar cubes in the following soft drinks:
• 15.5 – Lucozade (500ml)
• 13.5 – Coca Cola (500ml)
• 12.7 – Frijj chocolate milkshake (471ml)
• 8.25 – Capri-Sun (330ml)
• 7.5 – Tropicana orange juice (300ml)
• 7.25 – Ribena (288ml)
• 5.75 – Volvic flavoured water (500ml)
• 0 – tap water