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Dublin: 13°C Tuesday 20 October 2020

Teens drink a 'bathtub' of sugary drinks every year

Children aged 11 to 18 consume on average 234 cans of sugar-sweetened soft drinks each year.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

TEENAGERS IN THE British Isles drink almost a bathtub full of sugary drinks each year, according to Cancer Research UK.

Children aged 11 to 18 consume on average 234 cans of sugar-sweetened soft drinks each year, the charity said.

The figure amounts to almost a bath full and is more than double the figure for children aged between four and 10, whose average annual intake is 110 cans.

The data stems from a recent report carried out by the government’s health department and the Food Standards Agency, charting the population’s diet and nutrition.

The study found a drop in the amount of sugar-sweetened soft drinks consumed by children, with a more significant fall recorded in the under-10s than teenagers.

Despite the improving figures, CRUK said there was an urgent need to further reduce children’s intake of sugary drinks and threw its support behind government proposal to introduce a sugar tax.

“The ripple effect of a small tax on sugary drinks is enormous, and it will give soft drinks companies a clear incentive to reduce the amount of sugar in drinks,” said Alison Cox, director of prevention at CRUK.

Fizzy drinks

“But the government can do more to give the next generation a better chance.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar previously said he is not giving up on the idea of a sugar tax.

Last year, the former Minister for Health Varadkar wrote to the Finance Minister Michael Noonan asking for a 20% tax on sugar-sweetened drinks in an effort to tackle obesity.

However, his calls fell on deaf ears, much to the dislike of many organisations like the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF), who have argued that it should be introduced.

Drinks industry push back 

Previously, he was asked about reports that the drinks industry are considering legal action if such a tax was introduced.

Varadkar said: “When you introduce any change or any new tax or any change to the law there is always a risk that it will be challenged legally by those that don’t agree with it.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May revealed plans in August to introduce a sugar tax aimed at tackling childhood obesity, tooth decay and type 2 diabetes.

The sugar levy was first unveiled in March by the administration of May’s predecessor David Cameron.

The tax on drinks with more than five grams of sugar per 100 millilitres will be introduced in two years, despite strong opposition from the drinks industry.

Only a handful of countries such as France, South Africa and Mexico have attempted such a tax.

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