The UK soft drinks industry has strengthened its call on the government to abandon plans for a soft drinks tax, after official new figures revealed a 23% fall in children’s sugary soft drink consumption over the past six years.
According to new figures from government body Public Health England, children aged four to 10 drank 100mls of sugary drinks a day on average in 2012 to 2014, a decrease from 130mls in 2008 to 2010. An 8% decrease in teenagers’ consumption of sugary soft drinks was also noted.
However, despite the fall, children’s diets still contain almost three times more sugar than is recommended.
Sugar still makes up 13% of children’s daily calorie intake, while the official recommendation is no more than 5%.
Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association said: “We are pleased that the latest data shows a decline of over 8% in teenagers’ sugar intake from soft drinks between 2012 - 2014.
“Soft drinks companies have taken significant action to help their consumers reduce their sugar intake since the data was collected over two years ago. Independent analysis confirms that sugar intake from soft drinks has been reduced by over 16% in the last four years.
“It seems odd to punish progress with a tax which risks job losses and higher prices for consumers when our efforts are clearly having an impact. Surely a review of this policy must now be undertaken.”
Children’s fruit and vegetable consumption also remains well short of target, with average consumption just 2.8 portions per day, rather than the recommended five, according to the PHE data.
Only 27% of adults hit the recommended five a day target.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE said: “While it is encouraging that children are having fewer sugary drinks, they still have too much sugar in their diet over-all, along with teenagers and adults.
“To help tackle this PHE is launching a programme to challenge the food industry to remove at least 20% of the sugar in its products by 2020.”