The British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) is defending its members today (9 May) as Liverpool City Council unveils a new public health campaign dissuading parents from giving their children sugary beverages.
“Is your child’s sweet tooth harming their health?” comprises out of home billboards that display how many sugar cubes are in soft drinks such as Lucozade, Coca-Cola and the fruit juice-based Tropicana.
The posters have been placed in high-footfall locations such as children’s centres, doctors surgeries and hospitals. The initiative aims to combat what the council describes as “an alarming level of tooth decay in young chidren in the city”.
Other brands featured on the posters include Frijj, Capri-Sun and Ribena.
Dr Sandra Davies, director of public health at Liverpool City Council, said: “We are the first local authority in the country to name how much sugar is in specific brands because we feel it is really important that all parents have the facts they need when making decisions about which drinks to give their children.”
The BSDA has responded to the campaign, stating it feels soft drinks brands have been unfairly targeted.
“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 per cent since 2012,” said Gavin Partington, director general of the association.
“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.
He added: “We are also the only industry with an ambitious plan for the years ahead – in 2015 we agreed a calorie reduction goal of 20 per cent by 2020.”
The statement echoes that made by the BSDA following the Government’s forthcoming soft drinks levy, which was announced in March. Partington said at the time: “We are the only category with an ambitious plan for the years ahead…By contrast sugar and calorie intake from all other major take home food categories is increasing – which makes the targeting of soft drinks simply absurd.”