The Give Up Loving Pop (Gulp) campaign created by Food Active, is seeking to change consumer attitudes to and the purchasing of sugary drinks.
While many people are aware of the damage that drinks do to their teeth, fewer realise that they can also lead to weight gain, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, the campaign said.
“As sugary drinks manufacturers seem less-than-willing to inform the public about the health harms associated with overconsumption of their products we’ve launched our Gulp campaign to get the message across and take the fight to the manufacturers,” said Robin Ireland, chief executive of the Health Equalities Group and director of the Gulp campaign.
The drive, funded by North West Directors of Public Health, conducted a series of roadshows across the North West of England along with extensive social media initiatives to drive their message across.
Campaign based on research
The group claims that the campaign is a result of a research called Exploring the Acceptability of a Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, conducted by the Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University. The study found a strong link between high sugar sweetened beverages (SSB) intake and weight gain, especially among children and young adults.
The report added that it found children and young people are the biggest consumers of SSBs, with 40% young people reportedly drinking three or more glasses of sugary drinks per day.
‘Smear campaign’ says BSDA
However, the director general at British Soft Drinks Association, Gavin Partington dismissed the claims and called it a smear campaign. “Soft drinks companies are taking practical steps to help consumers lead healthier lives - product reformulation to reduce calories, increasing availability of smaller pack sizes and significant investment in promotion of low and no calorie options – up by nearly 50% last year alone.
“These practical steps will do more to help consumers than a campaign based on smear tactics,” he said.
Barbara Gallani, the director of regulation, science and health at The Food and Drink Federation also accused the campaign of scaremongering. “Some of the GULP campaign's messages are alarmist and not backed by the considerable body of science currently available on carbohydrates and health.”
She added that it is education and practical support that can help consumers make healthier choices and have more long-term value. “These adverts are likely to leave consumers extremely confused about what the evidence is for making such claims,” she said.