Coca-Cola should put the brakes on its Christmas red lorry tour because it hampers efforts to tackle child obesity, Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, has said. “Councils that allowed the lorry to stop in their towns and cities should reflect on whether it’s in the best interests of the health of local children and families”, he said.
The drinks company’s UK tour is in its seventh year, visiting 42 locations. Mr Selbie said: “Big name brands touring the country at Christmas to advertise their most sugary products to children and boost sales does nothing to help families make healthy choices.” Three in every five places on the tour had above-average rates of tooth decay and levels of obesity among children, he added.
Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said: “Our children are bombarded year-round with advertising for these products and at Christmas that pressure is ratcheted up a notch. While it’s easy to indulge a little too much over the festive period, we should be able to do so without turning Christmas into a corporate sugar-fest.”
A can of Coca-Cola Classic contains seven teaspoons of sugar, according to the brand’s own website. A spokesman said: “The Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour is a one-off, annual event where we offer people a choice of 150ml samples of Coca-Cola Classic, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar or Diet Coke, so two of the three options are no-sugar drinks. This is also reflected in the take-up of samples on the truck tour, with on average over 70 per cent of what we sample being a zero sugar option. We have a policy of not providing drinks to children under 12, unless their parent or guardian is present and says they can have one.