Thursday 12 January 2017

Coca-Cola’s ‘Happy Holidays’ Truck Tour Should Be Banned


Coca-Cola’s "Happy Holidays" truck tour should be banned next Christmas because it promotes unhealthy living to children, a group of 108 health experts have said.

Over Christmas the lorry visited various locations in Britain offering free cans of fizzy drink, which contain nearly four teaspoons of sugar.

But Robin Ireland, director of food charity Food Active, said Coca-Cola was trying to "hijack Christmas" and bring the gift of bad teeth and obesity to children.

In an open letter, experts including five public health directors and the current president of the Faculty of Public Health, Prof John Middleton, said they were "disappointed and concerned" that Coca-Cola used the holiday period to promote sugar.

“Their drinks play a major role in the soaring obesity and type 2 diabetes figures which place a huge and growing strain on the NHS,” the letter said.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, Mr Ireland added: “The truck is just the latest of Coca-Cola’s campaigns to become a holiday brand and, indeed, to help brand Santa Claus himself.

“Should this form of advertising and marketing be banned, given the growing evidence of the effect that marketing of unhealthy food and drink has on children?

“We believe it should and will continue to push for national action from organisations such as Public Health England to stop similar campaigns next Christmas.”

Data released in November from the National Child Measurement Programme for England showed that nearly one in five 10 to 11-year-olds was obese in the last academic year, with more than one in three (34.2 per cent) now described as overweight or obese.

In 2015-16, 19.8 per cent of Year 6 children were obese, meaning they had a body-mass index of 30 or above, a sharp rise on the 19.1 per cent the year before.

Last week Public Health England also warned that most children had already eaten half of their daily sugar allowance before they even got to school.

However Coca-Cola Great Britain said the tour was in line with its "responsible marketing policy".

“We do not provide drinks to under 12s unless their parent or guardian is present and happy for us to do so,” said a spokesman.

"The fact is, as government data shows, sugar intake from soft drinks by both children and teenagers continues to decline and consumption of full sugar soft drinks in general has fallen by 44 per cent since 2002.

"We will continue to take actions to help people to reduce the sugar they consume from our range of drinks, but the evidence suggests the current focus on sugar and soft drinks alone will not address the problem."



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