News: Health chiefs call for kitemark

Campaigners have called for a labelling scheme to identify healthy soft drinks.

The kitemark would help shoppers steer clear of products laden with sugar, sweeteners and additives, a meeting of retailers, manufacturers and health organisations heard.

The summit, chaired by Labour MP Keith Vaz in the Houses of Parliament, was organised by The Hudson Group, a grassroots coalition concerned with overconsumption of sugary soft drinks.

Founder Gemma Pond told the meeting: “My four-year-old son, Hudson, is the inspiration behind the Hudson Group.

“I first noticed when I was out shopping with him a couple of years ago that he would always grab for the brightly-coloured drinks conveniently placed at his eye level on shelves.

“When I looked at the labels, I could make neither head, nor tail of them. Despite believing I was quite a savvy, healthy consumer I eventually learnt that many of the ingredients – often additives or sweeteners – were not things Hudson or any other child of his age needed to be drinking. 

“We’re here to tackle a generational challenge – the challenge of how we can help people to make educated informed healthier choices when they are buying soft drinks if that’s a choice they would want to make.

“We know there are products that will benefit our health and some less so. But it’s also common sense that good choices about what we eat and drink should be well-informed. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and there’s a lack of information on the high street, labels, and shelves.”

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum said he expected Mr Vaz to use his influence to “make sure that we get a proper labelling scheme” approved in the UK.

“Sugar has contributed to the disastrous childhood obesity problem that we have in this country, he told the summit, which was held on May 25th. “25% of the child population is overweight or obese by the time they go to school. What is more terrible is that figure has gone to 33.3% by the time children are 11 and 38.7% by the time they are 15.

 “We have an obesity problem in this country for the next 10 years – make no bones about it.”

Zoe Griffiths, Head of Programme & Public Health at Weight Watchers, said the organisation was behind “moves to encourage healthier choices”.

She added: “Our members tell us there is still a lot of confusion and a lot of mistrust – they don’t know where to turn to have good quality advice and guidance on what’s healthy.

Rend Platings founder of Sugarwise said: “We all have to provide a future for our children, in which it is easier for people to identify healthier options through a clear kitemark on them.”

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