Call for fizzy drink sugar labelling

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Fizzy drinks should have the number of teaspoons of sugar they contain clearly marked on the label, council bosses said.

Because it takes an average of just 15 seconds to choose an item from the shop shelves, child friendly labels should be introduced so the sugar content is clear and concise.

It is feared with many energy and sports drinks containing 20 teaspoons of sugar in a 500 ml can and a typical can of pop nine teaspoons of sugar many shoppers don’t take time to read the small print on the back.

The Local Government Association which represents more than 370 councils - with responsibility for public health - says many children and parents are unaware of the high level of sugar in fizzy drinks.

But if childhood obesity and tooth decay is to be tackled, then manufacturers need to make sugar warnings more easy to understand.

The NHS estimates one in every four adults and around one in every five children aged 10 to 11 are obese.

Public Health England found 12 per cent of three year olds have tooth decay and it was the most common reason for hospital admissions in children aged five to nine in 2012 to 13.

That same year more than 60,000 children under 19 were admitted to hospital for removal of decayed teeth - half of which were aged nine or under.

Britain’s children were also Europe’s biggest drinkers of soft drinks with two fifths of 11 to 15-year-olds drinking sugary drinks at least once a day.

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey found children under 10 get 16 per cent of their sugar intake from soft and fizzy drinks and those aged 11 to 18 get 29 per cent.

Community Wellbeing spokesperson councillor Izzi Seccombe said: “While we acknowledge that many soft drinks manufacturers are heading in the right direction with sugar reduction, the industry as whole needs to go further, faster and show leadership on the issue.

“In many cases, parents and children are unaware of exactly how much sugar these fizzy drinks contain, which is why we are calling on manufacturers to provide clearer, front-of-product labelling that shows how much sugar soft drinks have in teaspoons.

“On average it takes just 15 seconds for shoppers to decide on an item, so we need to have a labelling system which provides an instant at-a-glance understanding of sugar content.

“Raising awareness of sugar quantities and giving families a more informed choice is crucial if we are to make a breakthrough in the fight against tooth decay and obesity.”

The call comes ahead of the Government’s forthcoming child obesity strategy.

Unless radical action is taken now to tackle obesity, councils are warning that the next 20 years will see the number of obese adults in the country soar by a staggering 73 per cent to 26 million people.

Health problems associated with being overweight or obese cost the NHS more than £5 billion every year and over £1.5 million an hour on diabetes.

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