Soft drink manufacturers urged to slash sugar levels

By Alice Foster contact

- Last updated on GMT

Action on Sugar revealed 88% of soft drink cans exceed recommended daily intake
Action on Sugar revealed 88% of soft drink cans exceed recommended daily intake

Related tags: Soft drinks, Coca-cola

Soft drink manufacturers worldwide have again been urged to set sugar reduction targets, while the advertising regulator plans to consult on new rules for non-broadcast adverts targeted at children.

Campaign group Action on Sugar revealed that 88% of sugar-sweetened drink cans exceeded the recommended daily intake of free sugars after testing 274 products from around the world.

The group criticised UK manufacturers for continuing to produce drinks “shockingly high” ​in free sugars even though Britain has high levels of obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. 

Action on Sugar nutritionist Kawther Hashem said:“It’s high time soft drinks manufacturers around the world stop adding unnecessary sugars and calories to their products and work universally to set sugar reduction targets once and for all. 

‘Discrepancies between sugar content’ 

“Our research has shown discrepancies between the sugar content in the same carbonated drinks sold across the world and this needs to stop.”​ 

Level of sugar per 330ml

  • Coca Cola: 35g in UK / 36g in US / 32g in Thailand
  • 7Up: 36g in UK / 35g in US / 39g in Canada
  • Pepsi: 35g in UK / 38g in US / 39g in Japan

Source: Action on Sugar

Action on Sugar found that Coca-Cola in the UK contained 35g of sugar per 330ml compared with 32g in Thailand while 7Up contained 36g, compared with 35g in the US. 

In response to the criticism, British Soft Drinks Association director general Gavin Partington said the majority of soft drinks sold in the UK were already low or no calorie. 

“UK soft drinks manufacturers are leading the way in cutting calories and reducing the sugar in their products,”​ Partington said. 

‘Smaller pack sizes’​ 

“Through new product development, reformulation and increased availability of smaller pack sizes the soft drinks category has reduced sugar by more than 8% in just three years.”

Meanwhile, advertising regulator the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has announced a public consultation on the way soft drinks and food high in fat, sugar and salt were advertised to children. 

CAP will ask whether new rules should be introduced in the non-broadcast code, which would cover online and print adverts targeted at youngsters. 

“Our decision to carry out a public consultation responds, in part, to changes in children’s media habits and evolving advertising techniques,”​ it said. 

“It also reflects a growing consensus, shared by public health and industry bodies, about the role of advertising self-regulation in helping to bring about a change in the nature and balance of food advertising targeted at children.”

The public consultation will be launched in early 2016.

Call from campaigners

“It’s high time soft drinks manufacturers around the world stop adding unnecessary sugars and calories.”

  • Kawther Hashem, Action on Sugar 

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