Page last updated at 14:40 GMT, Wednesday, 18 April 2012 15:40 UK

Sugar in soft drinks must be cut, Vaz demands

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Legislation to cut the amount of sugar in soft drinks will help eradicate the "twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes", Labour MP Keith Vaz has told the House of Commons.

On 18 April 2012, Mr Vaz introduced his Diabetes Prevention (Soft Drinks) Bill under the ten-minute rule, suggesting that voluntary measures to bring about change in the soft drinks industry would fail.

The legislation would also set up a research programme into the prevention of diabetes.

The MP for Leicester East told MPs he had Type 2 diabetes and his chance diagnosis made him aware of the "devastating costs" of diabetes to the UK, "both human and financial".

He said: "The NHS can simply not afford this, that is why I believe we should have a statutory duty for drinks companies to reduce their products' sugar content. Government action on government terms, not the industry's terms, would send a strong and unequivocal signal about the need to moderate sugar and fat consumption."

Referring to some food and drink companies' revenue, Mr Vaz, said: "This is a change that the companies can afford to make. This bill will help to save millions of lives and billions of pounds, this is only a first step in the action we need to tackle the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes, but it is a very important step.

"We cannot afford to wait until it is convenient for the industry to effect change, we need to show the people of Britain that Parliament is willing to tackle the problem head-on."

MPs gave Mr Vaz's bill an unopposed first reading, but is unlikely to become law due to a lack of parliamentary time.

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