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Child Health Fears In UK Gives Rise To Calls For Ban On Coca-Cola's Christmas Truck Tour

Child Health Fears In UK Gives Rise To Calls For Ban On Coca-Cola's Christmas Truck Tour
Sugar allegedly plays an important role in rotting of teeth in children and their obesity, according to the NHS in the UK, and this is the reason that the UK health agency has appealed to local councils and shopping centres to prevent visits of the promotional Christmas trucks of Coca-Cola.
The annual PR strategy of the soft drink giant of parading lorries which are adorned with fairy lights and fake snow, moves around various towns, cities and landmarks in the UK with the aim of advertising its products, has been severely criticized by Duncan Selbie, the chief executive of Public Health England.
Tooth decay and obesity have been found in over average numbers among children in most of the areas where the Coke trucks tend to visit before Christmas, by a PHE research just as Selbie made the appeal.
“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 and wider efforts to combat childhood obesity and rotten teeth,” Selbie said.
“Local authorities celebrating sugary drinks in this way need to reflect on whether it’s in the best interests of the health of local children and families.”
Among the 42 places that the Coca Cola truck plans to visit are the O2 complex in London’s Docklands, the Lakeside shopping centre in Thurrock, Essex and the Wembley in north London. The 42 locations are spread across England and Scotland and 2 decorated lorries would be used for this.
The trucks will be “delivering Christmas cheer up and down the country. At every stop you’ll have the chance to project your festive selfies across the side of the truck as it lights up’” says the company’s promotional material.
“You’ll also be able to experience a snowy winter wonderland setting while enjoying a choice of Coca-Cola Classic, Diet Coke or Coca Cola Zero Sugar,” it further says.
Each of the trucks would be lit by 372 bulbs and 8,772 fairy lights and 150ml samples of the three drinks would be given to the consumers for free, including many children.
But the tooth decay and obesity problems among children is already high and it would be potentially worsened by Coke’s marketing, believes the PFE. Bolton is one area where 40.5% of the children that are five-year-old suffer from tooth decay which is amongst the highest number among all of the places that the trucks are too visit.
NHS dental statistics show that rates of rotten teeth are higher compared to the English average, for both 5 year and 12 year olds, in at least 61% where the trucks are scheduled to stop, on the overall. These places also have a very high rate of obesity among children of 10 and 11 years old. On the other hand, in the same areas, in the age group of 3 and 4 years, 56% are dangerously overweight.
“The bright lights of the Coca-Cola truck and giving out free fizzy drinks will of course appeal to children. But when we’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic – and have increasing numbers of children with tooth decay – it’s not really doing children any favours,” said Prof Mary Fewtrell, nutrition lead at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
“We’re seeing increasing numbers of local protests against the truck, both from the public and council leaders, public health professionals and dentists. The motivation behind these is not to take the joy out of Christmas; but to recognise that linking fizzy drinks with the fun of the festive season is a marketing tactic and not good for child health,” she added.
“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% of what we sample being a zero-sugar option,” a spokesperson for the company said.
“We also have a policy of not providing drinks to children under the age of 12, unless their parent or guardian is present and says they can have one. The truck tour route changes every year as we try to cover a fair geographical spread of the UK.”

Christopher J. Mitchell

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