A senior Labour MP says the fizzy drink manufacturer's festive truck is "not welcome" in his constituency (Leicester East) because it sends the wrong message to kids about healthy eating, reported the Dorset Echo.
"The Coca-Cola truck is not welcome in Leicester, and this national tour to promote sugar-laden drinks is ill-judged and unwise at a time of record diabetes and obesity levels,” said Keith Vaz MP.
Obesity levels among children are at an all-time high and one third of children in Leicester have tooth decay. Coca-Cola have said they won't be handing out drinks to children under the age of 12 but Mr. Vaz pointed out that this will be practically impossible to monitor.
"This tour is not the 'real thing', it is the wrong thing,” he said.
"The evidence shows that this type of advertising increases children's preference for and consumption of sugary drinks, which are linked to tooth decay and too many calories leading to obesity," said Dr. Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England. "Worryingly, children and teenagers are having three times more sugar than the maximum recommended amount and the biggest source is sugary drinks. There is no place for sugary drinks in a child's daily diet — lower fat milks and water are ideal but swapping to no added sugar, diet and sugar-free alternatives is fine."
"Given the obesity and Type 2 diabetes crisis, not to mention tooth decay, that we are currently facing in the U.K., Coca-Cola should be taking a more responsible approach by cutting the sugar in their drinks rather than blatantly marketing their products," said Jennifer Rosborough, campaign manager and nutritionist at Action on Sugar. "One can of regular Coca-Cola contains nine teaspoons of added sugar (35 grams), which is equivalent to 140 percent of the draft WHO guidelines for added sugar intake. This is an example why there needs to be stricter marketing regulations; people associate Christmas with Coca-Cola and it's unnecessary."
However the National Obesity Forum has spoken up in defence of Coca-Cola.
"A blanket statement saying that Coca-Cola are still the baddies of yesteryear, I believe, is not appropriate," said spokesman Tam Fry. "We recognise that Coca-Cola have made advances in making their range of drinks healthier. A company that is making crucial efforts at this time deserves a little encouragement."
The Coca-Cola truck tour is scheduled to stop at 46 locations across the U.K. as part of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the "Holidays Are Coming" advert.
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