Soft drinks fizz back against obesity claims
19 February, 2013
The soft drinks industry is hitting back hard against accusations that it is a cause of obesity in the UK. Its trade body is now preparing to mount a marketing campaign to target opinion formers.
As Peach Report reported earlier this week, doctors directly linked soft drinks producers with the obesity crisis, and called for a range of new sanctions including specific taxes. But the British Soft Drinks Association, the leading trade body for the sector, was quick to counter the allegations. Director general Gavin Partington said: “We share the recognition that obesity is a major public health priority but reject the idea that a tax on soft drinks, which contribute just 2% of the total calories in the average diet, is going to address a problem which is about overall diet and levels of activity.”
The BSDA's campaign, reports Marketing magazine, will use its statistics to try to convince people that further action is unnecessary. As it points out, a major consumer-facing campaign would be an unusual step for a trade body to take, but it would help to deflect the attention from specific producers, and has a precedent in the moves by the National Hydration Council in 2008 to defend the bottled water industry against accusations of environmental irresponsibility.
Partington pointed to recent trends indicating healthier drinking: “Over the last ten years, the consumption of soft drinks containing added sugar has fallen by 9% while the incidence of obesity has been increasing, and 61% of soft drinks now contain no added sugar.” Producers were already working hard on initiatives under the government’s ‘Responsibility Deal’ with the private sector on healthier eating, he added, and more taxes would hit consumers. “Putting up taxes even further will put pressure on people’s purses at a time when they can ill afford it.”
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