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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 June, 2004, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Children top fizzy drinks league
Fizzy drink - generic
Some drinks companies have responded to concerns
Children in Scotland consume more fizzy drinks than youngsters anywhere else in Europe, a study has found.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) surveyed 160,000 children aged between 11 and 15 in 35 countries, asking them about their diet and lifestyle.

More than half of 15-year-old boys and almost one in every two girls said they drank fizzy drinks at least once a day.

Deputy chief medical officer Peter Donnelly said it would take time to reverse the poor diet trend.

The WHO study surveyed 4,004 Scottish pupils in 2001/02 and asked about physical activity, diet and alcohol.

The report reveals the real behaviour of young people that affects their health and their lives
Dr Marc Danzon
Among 11-year-olds, 47.2% of boys and 40.4% of girls in Scotland said they drank fizzy drinks every day, compared to the survey average of 32% and 26% respectively.

Scottish youngsters in that age group were only behind Malta and the Netherlands in daily sweet consumption.

Dr Marc Danzon, WHO director for Europe, said the statistics would help policy makers to tackle specific areas of concern.

"The report reveals the real behaviour of young people that affects their health and their lives," he said.

In an effort to improve the nation's health, the Scottish Executive has introduced free fruit for primary one and two pupils and created nutritional standards for school meals.

Branding removed

Last December, drinks giant Coca Cola agreed to remove its branding from vending machines in Scottish schools and replace it with a graphic of an urban scene.

Scotland's food and health czar, Gillian Kynoch, said the company acted because more children now drank water and healthier drinks and offering a choice was better than an all-out ban.

In March, the makers of Irn Bru, Glasgow-based AG Barr, revealed sales of fizzy drinks were falling amid health concerns.

It said that diet carbonates, still drinks and water products were selling more than sugar-sweetened carbonated drinks.

Dietary concerns in Scotland have led to several health initiatives

Mr Donnelly said the executive's attempts to tackle poor diet should be given time to succeed.

"All of these initiatives are going to take some time to have an impact," he said.

"There may have been up to 50 years of things not going in the direction we would wish, and we're not going to be able to address those in five.

"So there's a need to have confidence in the current approach and to stick with it."

The Scottish National Party said the executive's efforts did not go far enough.

SNP health spokeswoman Shona Robison said the statistics confirmed concerns about diet and the increase in child obesity.

"That's why I hope that the Scottish Parliament will back my bill to ban the sale of sugary soft drinks from vending machines in schools, and end the advertising of junk food and fizzy drinks for children," she added.

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03 Jun 04  |  Health
Drinks sales 'losing their fizz'
29 Mar 04  |  Scotland
Fat Scots youngsters targeted
29 Dec 03  |  Scotland
Coca Cola removes branding
23 Dec 03  |  Scotland

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