Teenagers drinking “a bathtub full of sugary drinks” each year

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11 to 18 year olds are drinking the equivalent of a bathtub full of sugary drinks every year, according to figures compiled from the latest Government National Diet and Nutrition Survey, it’s been reported.

This is the equivalent of just under 234 cans of soft drink per year, twice the amount of children aged between 4 and 10.

It’s also been said that teenagers are eating and drinking at least three times the recommended limit, and sugary drinks account for most of this added sugar.

Cancer Research UK is calling on the Scottish government to do more to tackle the country’s wider obesity epidemic, suggesting that a proposed sugar levy does not go far enough.

The findings of the report have been branded as shocking by Professor Linda Bauld of University of Stirling, CRUK’s cancer prevention expert.

Professor Bauld was adamant that more needed to be done: “Scotland is already sucking up the high cost of obesity and, unless action is taken, society and our health services will drown under the heavy weight of this UK epidemic.

The Scottish Government must do much more to give the next generation a better chance by protecting children from being bombarded by junk food marketing on TV, as well as the barrage of supermarket multi-buy offers on sugar laden food and drinks.”

However, when asked about these latest figures, Director General of the British Soft Drink Association Gavin Partington, refuted these findings, referring back to the same survey:

“The latest Government NDNS data actually shows that teenagers’ sugar intake from soft drinks is down by 8%.

This is not surprising since soft drinks companies’ action on reformulation and smaller pack sizes has helped drive a 17% cut in sugar consumed from soft drinks since 2012.”

The Director General went on to argue that “the soft drinks sector is ahead of the game”, having in 2015 become the only food and drink category to set a voluntary calorie reduction target of 20% by 2020.

Alana MacDonald, Dietary Advisor at Food Standards Scotland, weighed in on the matter:

“The impact of over-consumption of high sugar food and drinks adds up over time and could have serious consequences for our children’s health. Drinking too many sugary drinks increases the risk of weight gain in children and young people, and is also associated with a  greater risk of dental cavities and  type 2 diabetes. Unless we take action now to improve children’s diets in Scotland, we risk condemning the next generation to the same habits and poor diets that have led to current overweight and obesity levels in children of 28%.

MacDonald acknowledged that although steps were being taken, yet more could certainly be done to curb the high consumption of high sugar food and drink by children and teens. “FSS would therefore welcome a more comprehensive approach to sugar taxation for high sugar foods and drinks, compared to the current proposals set out within the soft drinks industry levy.”

The Health and Sports committee at the Scottish Parliament will be meeting on the 6 December to discuss how the country might tackle the rising obesity epidemic.

Coca Cola and AG Barr Soft Drinks were contacted but could not be reached for comment.

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