Ethical Performance
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Coca Cola under new pressure over sugar content levels

July 2014

Coca-Cola is under renewed pressure after announcing a new version of its popular Coke drink with a third less sugar and a third fewer calories.

The company says the new product is in line with efforts by the government and the industry to tackle obesity.

However, Action on Sugar, the UK group that raises awareness of the unhealthy effects of sugar, emphasises that a 330ml can of this version will still contain about six teaspoonfuls of sugar, more than a third of a child’s recommended daily intake.

Excess sugar is strongly linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes and dental caries, warns Professor Graham MacGregor, of Queen Mary University of London, chairman of Action on Sugar.

MacGregor’s warning accompanies the group’s latest research listing the sugar content of fizzy drinks and showing that many, including upmarket brands such as San Pellegrino and Fentimans products, contain even more sugar than Coke.

The investigators found cans of San Pellegrino Pompelmo and Fentimans Cherrytree Cola had ten teaspoonfuls of sugar, and Fentimans Traditional Curiosity Cola nine teaspoonfuls.

The highest content discovered was eleven teaspoonfuls in Sainsbury’s cloud lemonade and Marks & Spencer’s ginger beer.
A surprising finding was that elderflower drinks, widely considered healthier, were sugar-rich. Schloer white grape and elderflower drink, for example, has nine teaspoonfuls.

The World Health Organisation advises only 12 teaspoonfuls daily for adults but may drop its recommendation to six.
Kawther Hashem, an Action on Sugar nutritionist, said: “Switch to a lower- or no-added-sugar variety of your favourite drink, or, even better, don’t drink them. They contain nothing of any nutritional value. Drink water and save money too!”

The government’s health department said it was working with the industry to reduce sugar contents.

Marks & Spencer responds that all its products are labelled with nutritional information, and other supermarket companies say they have reduced sugar contents.

All the fizzy drinks manufacturers are now being asked formally by Action on Sugar to keep down sugar contents.

UK & NI Ireland | Healthcare

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