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Call to go hard on soft drinks

By Holly Ife

Herald Sun
October 29
, 2007

ALL soft-drink marketing to children under 16 should be banned, according to an international coalition of consumer organisations.

The groups, meeting this week at the Consumers International world congress in Sydney, have developed a global "Dump Soda" campaign to highlight the link between sugary soft drinks and childhood obesity.

The campaign aims to convince governments to ban the marketing of high-kilojoule drinks to children under 16.

It's also pushing for a small tax on soft drinks to support government-funded physical education programs and subsidised fruit and vegetables.

"It is no news to anyone that there is a global childhood obesity epidemic and that one of the contributors worldwide is soft drinks," said group organiser Bruce Silverglade, legal director of the US-based Centre for Science in the Public Interest.

But chief executive of the Australian Beverages Council Tony Gentile said the "Dump Soda" campaigners had "missed the whole point".

"There has been a 1 per cent decrease in sugar-sweetened beverages for every year for the past seven years, and a 1 per cent increase for non-sugar sweetened beverages every year over the same time period," Mr Gentile said. He said companies were reacting to customer demands.

Mr Gentile said soft drinks had not been marketed to primary-school-aged children in Australia for 10 to 15 years.

"If you haven't taught your children to make rational decisions by the time they leave primary school, you have really lost the battle," he said.

 

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