Councils reveal soft drinks with more sugar than cola in calls for 'giants' to commit to drop

Some drinks have more than double the daily recommended limit in a single can

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The Independent Online

Soft drinks giants are being urged to drop the sugar content of drinks that are putting children at risk of diabetes after research shows many have even more sugar than cola.

The call comes from The Local Government Association (LGA), who tested the amount of sugar in a number of soft-drinks, as latest figures show that the NHS spends £1.5-million an hour on diabetes.

In a single can of Jamaica Inn ginger beer, there is 12 teaspoons of sugar, which is more than double the World Health Organisation's recommended daily allowance. It's equivalent to 58 grams of sugar, compared to 33 grams in an average-sized can of cola.

Ocean Spray cranberry juice, considered by many as a healthier option, contains 11 grams of sugar per 100 ml, while PomeGreat, which markets itself as a ‘super juice' drink, had 12.1 grams. Both says the sugars are from fructose and glucose and not from added sugar.


Lemonade drinks are also bad offenders, according to survey published last year by Action for Sugar, also campaigning for a reduction in the sugar content of drinks.

Made by the Coca-Cola Company, 7UP has 37 grams per 330 ml can - that's four more than Coca-Cola itself. Morissons lemonade had 36 grams, according to the survey which checked over 200 products in the week starting on June 2 last year.

And for those hoping to reduce alcoholic units, alternatives pose their own problems. Schloer, often used as an alternative to wine, has a higher sugar content than cola drinks, as did most shandy.

The LGA, comprising of 300 local councils, has already secured a commitment from Britvic, which makes J2O, Robinsons and Fruit Shoots, to reduce the content in their drinks, but now want the Government to use some of the VAT raised on drinks, sweets, crisps and takeaways to be invested in health facilites.

Research shows that 3.5-million children in Britain are now obese and under-10s get almost a fifth of their sugar intake from drinks. In 11-18-year-olds, it's closer to a third.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chair of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, said: "It is wholly unacceptable for one normal-sized can of soft drink to contain 12 teaspoons of sugar – double the recommended daily limit. Products like these are fuelling the obesity crisis and helping wean a generation of overweight children.

"Some firms are showing willing when it comes to reducing sugar - but others are simply dragging their heels. They need to go further, faster. We are calling on the sector as a whole to step up and show more corporate responsibility.

"In many cases, people are unaware of exactly how much sugar these fizzy drinks contain. Manufacturers must also provide clearer, larger and more prominent labelling which spells out the sugar content. It is crucial to tackle obesity at an early age. Overweight five-year-olds are four times more likely to be obese than their healthy weight counterparts.

"Investing in obesity prevention is the key. Councils are already taking action locally to tackle obesity, but would be able to significantly ramp up these efforts, benefiting millions more, under the LGA's plans for a fifth of existing VAT raised from sugary drinks, crisps, takeaways and sweets to go to council-run grassroots initiatives. Local authorities are currently commissioning weight management services, exercise referral schemes and extending the offer of free or reduced-cost sport – for example swimming – and leisure facilities.

"Additional funding would enable us to do so much more. This would help transform the lives of the millions of overweight or obese children in this country which would more than pay for itself by reducing the huge cost to the public purse of obesity."