MPs call for new rules to reduce sugar in soft drinks
Following stints with Reuters and the Press Association, Martin Hickman joined The Independent as a news editor in 2001. He became the Consumer Affairs Correspondent in September 2005 and has run the paper's trenchant campaigns on packaging, bank charges and factory-farmed chicken. He writes on subjects as diverse as food, finance, energy and fashion. With Tom Watson, he is author of a new book on the phone hacking scandal, Dial M for Murdoch - News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain.
Friday 23 March 2012
Soft drinks manufacturers would be forced to reduce their sugar content under a parliamentary move to prevent more children and adults developing the life-shortening disease diabetes.
A House of Commons Bill drafted by the senior Labour backbencher Keith Vaz would compel Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Britvic and other makers to cut sugar levels by 4 per cent and to fund new research into preventing diabetes, which has more than doubled in 15 years and now affects one in 20 UK adults.
Many soft drinks are stuffed with sugar – 330ml cans of Coca-Cola and Pepsi contain the equivalent of eight teaspoonfuls – and campaigners say their popularity is making Britons fatter.
One in four primary school children are now overweight or obese and obesity and high sugar consumption are major causes of the sharp rise in type 2 diabetes.
Despite warnings not to consume too much sugar, sales of soft drinks are rising year after year, up 5.8 per cent in 2010. On average,people drink two cans of fizzy drinks, dilutable squashes and fruit-based still drinks every day.
Diet, low calorie and no-added-sugar versions now account for 60 per cent of the market – double the proportion 20 years ago – but the whole market is much bigger than it was.
Mr Vaz's 10-minute Diabetes Prevention (Soft Drinks) Bill will be debated by MPs on 18 April. Although it is very unlikely to become law, Mr Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee and a diabetes sufferer himself, hopes it will generate debate and increase pressure on the Government and manufacturers to make their drinks healthier.
Mr Vaz said: "Reducing the sugar content of soft drinks by 4 per cent was a target set by the Food Standards Agency, to be achieved voluntarily in partnership with the industry. This has not been done. Many of our largest drinks companies have not even signed up to the agreement, including Coca-Cola. Obesity has continued to increase.
"I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a number of years ago. It came as a complete shock to me. Since then, I have taken a keen interest in how to prevent the type 2 diabetes epidemic sweeping Britain."
Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator of the Children's Food Campaign run by the food and farming pressure group Sustain, said the Bill sent "a strong signal" to the soft drinks industry, which had sales of £13.9bn in 2010. "At the moment so many soft drinks are aimed at children and young people," he said.
Richard Laming, spokesman for the British Soft Drinks Association, said it was wrong to single out soft drinks, because they contributed only 3 per cent of the calories to the national diet.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 2 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
- 5 Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Ian Thorpe gay: Olympic swimmer comes out in Parkinson interview
Stephen Fry ‘criticises Operation Yewtree in dinner party rant’ calling for tougher laws to deter false sex abuse allegations
Israel-Gaza conflict: ‘Sderot cinema’ image shows Israelis with popcorn and chairs 'cheering as missiles strike Palestinian targets'
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israeli air strike destroys home for the disabled killing two women residents
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israeli PM says conflict may 'continue for a long time' as hundreds of Palestinians flee their homes
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
Emergency data law: David Cameron plots to bring back snoopers’ charter
NUT strike: David Cameron announces crackdown on strike action ahead of mass industrial action
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Dynamics CRM D...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...
£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...