Youngsters aged between 11 and 18, drink almost a bathtub full of sugary drinks on average a year, according to new calculations from Cancer Research UK.
The figures, calculated from National Diet and Nutrition Survey data, shed light on the extreme sugar consumption of UK teenagers and children.
Four to ten-year-olds are drinking the equivalent of almost half a bathtub full of sugary drinks each year.
Adults and young children consume twice the maximum recommended amount of added sugar. And 11 to 18-year-olds eat and drink three times the recommended limit, with sugary drinks being their main source of added sugar.
Obese children are around five times more likely to grow into obese adults, and carrying too much weight increases the risk of cancer as well as other diseases.
A recent Cancer Research UK report showed that a 20p sugar tax could prevent 3.7 million cases of obesity over the next decade. As part of its Scale Down Cancer campaign, Cancer Research UK is calling on the Scottish Government to take action to do more to tackle Scotland’s wider obesity challenges. And while the sugary drinks levy recently announced by the UK Government is welcome, Cancer Research UK says the measure doesn’t go far enough.
Restricting advertising of unhealthy food and drinks and action towards fewer supermarket multi-buy discounts are among a comprehensive range of measures that the charity wants to see placed at the heart of the expected Scottish Government strategy to improve Scots’ diets.
Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK’s cancer prevention expert said: “It’s shocking that teenagers are drinking the equivalent of a bathtub of sugary drinks a year.
“Scotland is already sucking up the high cost of obesity and, unless action is taken, society and our health services will drown under the heavy weight of this UK epidemic.
“We know that Scots have a bigger thirst for fizzy drinks with households spending over a quarter more than other UK nations on soft drinks.
“And the nation has one of the heaviest populations in Europe with two in three adults in Scotland overweight or obese.
“The Scottish Government must do much more to give the next generation a better chance by protecting children from being bombarded by junk food marketing on TV, as well as the barrage of supermarket multi-buy offers on sugar laden food and drinks.”
The Health and Sport Committee at the Scottish Parliament will be meeting on 6 December to hear evidence on how they should tackle obesity. Each party has a representative on this Committee. Cancer Research UK is asking the public to write to their MSP to make sure the Committee considers the charity’s calls for tackling obesity.
Findings published earlier this month in the journal BMJ Open found that half of the fizzy drinks sold in supermarkets have more sugar in one can than an adult should consume in a day, with ginger beer as the worst offender.