The head of Public Health England has called for Coca-Cola’s famed Christmas-themed big rig to be taken off the road following the publication of research indicating that the annual PR drive disproportionately targets areas already grappling with high incidences of tooth decay and obesity.
Duncan Selbie is calling for the illuminated trucks banned from shopping centres and towns which are struggling to get to grips with health issues amid fears that the 14-tonne articulated lorries are undermining calls for healthier lifestyles.
Selbie said: "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.
“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.”
Coca-Cola’s 2017 road trip will take it to 42 locations around Britain this Christmas, including Glasgow, Newcastle, Bradford, Hull and Watford. At each stop staff will distribute free 150ml samples from a specially configured lorry bedecked with 8,772 fairy lights and 372 bulbs.
NHS dental statistics show that 61% of stops are in areas where five and 12 year-olds have higher rates of tooth decay than the national average.
A sugar tax is proposed for the UK which will see manufacturers forced to levy a surcharge for the sale of food and beverages with a high sugar content.