Some ‘healthy’ fruit juices contain more sugarthan cola, officials have warned.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has said soft drinks firms are ‘dragging their heels’ when it comes to reducing the amount of sugar in many of their products.
The body which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales responsible for public health, accused the industry of ‘helping wean a generation of overweight children’.
Research by the organisation found some popular fruit juice drinks and ginger beers contain more sugar than cola, while many cans of fizzy drink contain twice the recommended daily sugar limit.
A can of Old Jamaica Ginger Beer contained 12 teaspoons of sugar – double the World Health Organisation’s 25g recommended daily sugar limit.
Ocean Spray Cranberry Classic juice was found to have 11g of sugar per 100ml, pomegranate drink Pomegreat had 12.1g, while a. can of full-sugar Coca-Cola has 10.6 grams.
Councillor Izzi Seccombe, chair of the LGA’s Community Well-being Board, said: “It is wholly unacceptable for one normal-sized can of soft drink to contain 12 teaspoons of sugar – double the recommended daily limit.
“Products like these are fuelling the obesity crisis and helping wean a generation of overweight children.
“Some firms are showing willing when it comes to reducing sugar – but others are simply dragging their heels.
“They need to go further, faster. We are calling on the sector as a whole to to step up and show more corporate responsibility.”
She added that as well as reducing the amount of sugar in drinks, manufacturers also have a responsibility to provide clear nutrition information.
“In many cases, people are unaware of exactly how much sugar these fizzy drinks contain,” she said.
“Manufacturers must also provide clearer, larger and more prominent labelling which spells out the sugar content. It is crucial to tackle obesity at an early age.”
The LGA also recommended that a percentage of the existing VAT raised through the sale of sugary drinks, sweets, crisps, and takeaway food should be invested in preventative schemes like leisure centres, exercise classes and free swimming.
According to the NHS, under-10s receive almost a fifth of their sugar intake from soft drinks and for 11- to 18-year-olds that figure is nearly a third
In response to the LGA’s statement Adam Pritchard, founder of Pomegreat, said:
“Whilst I applaud the aims of the Local Government Association in raising the issue of sugar in drinks, their claims about my brand are nonsense.
“My drinks do not contain raw sugar. The fruit extract enables consumers to manage their glycaemic index.
“I have partnered with the Independent Diabetes Trust on the development of this formulation.”
A spokeswoman for Ocean Spray said: “Unlike other fruit, cranberries are naturally low in sugar and have the taste profile similar to that of lemons.
“Therefore, sweetening is required so that consumers can enjoy its health benefits and great taste. We offer consumers a range of reduced sugar options.”