Monthly Archives: November 2015

nestle books

Book Review: Soda Politics

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With Sugar Awareness Week upon us, Give Up Loving Pop Director, Robin Ireland, reviews the latest book from esteemed food campaigner Marion Nestle- ‘Soda Politics- Taking on Big Soda (And Winning).

Soda Politics by Dr. Marion Nestle (Oxford University Press, 2015) is a large book written from a North American perspective but well worth a read as the argument for a sugar tax intensifies with the backing of the Commons’ Health Committee today.

As a British advocate, there are some fascinating historical insights on Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, the giants in the field. But there is also so much which is familiar as the ‘Soda’ industry does its best to counter the possibility of a sugar tax, supports front ‘pro sugar’ groups, funds research to obfuscate public health messages whilst doing its best to discredit campaigns like Give Up Loving Pop (GULP).

Marion Nestle describes the strong evidence between sugary drink consumption and obesity, type 2 diabetes and dental decay. She details the profits made from products which are 90% water and the environmental impact of their production. There is a lot of well-researched information on how the sugary drinks industry works and how it markets its products and it certainly starts early. A former Coca-Cola executive is quoted saying “90 percent of all soft drink marketing is targeted at 12 to 24 year olds”. And in every chapter there are tips for effective advocacy.

As the health lobby’s messages that sugary drinks contain only empty calories with no nutritional benefit start to become resonant with the public and the media, so ‘astroturf’ (artificially green and grassroots) front groups are becoming more common. These groups (and sometimes individuals) try to discredit critics through ridicule and terms such as ‘food police’ and ‘nannies’. Pretty familiar stuff to those of us who use social media. And, for the American Beverage Association’s actions which Marion Nestle describes, you have the Food and Drink Federation and British Soft Drinks Association in the UK who tried to stop Food Active publishing its eye-catching GULP images earlier this year. A shopping centre in the North West of England also refused our GULP roadshow booking because of its commercial relationship with Coca-Cola. The book lists many American equivalents.

I enjoyed the practical sections on advocacy in New York City, California and elsewhere. The description of a tax on ‘sodas’ and junk foods which has been successfully implemented in Mexico is particularly encouraging. British advocates of a sugar tax are rehearsing their arguments as I write. Marion Nestle advocates that such arguments gain more traction is revenues are used to fund public health programmes as in Mexico and as suggested by Jamie Oliver and Sustain’s Children’s Health Fund in the UK.

This is a food advocates’ book which forensically analyses the tactics of the ‘Soda’ industry. As Dr Margaret Chan of the World Health Organisation says, it ‘will open the eyes of the public and parliamentarians to the health hazards of what is essentially liquid candy in a bottle.’

sugar petition

Parliamentary debate on sugary drinks

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We are very pleased to see that the Petitions Committee have agreed to hold a Parliamentary Debate on a Sugary Drinks Duty on Monday 30th November, 4.30pm-7.30pm in Westminster Hall. This is a result of Jamie Oliver’s Sugar Rush documentary and the petition from the Children’s Food Campaign, which now has over 150,000 signatures.

In a show of support for the sugary drinks duty we have written to every MP across the North West of England urging them to attend the debate and to consider the benefits a sugary drinks duty would bring to the health and wellbeing of the region’s children, young people and adults.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear MP,

You may be aware from recent media coverage that the restauranteur and children’s food campaigner Jamie Oliver has been campaigning to build support for the introduction of a duty on sugary drinks.

Working alongside Sustain’s Children’s Food Campaign, a parliamentary petition was launched during the summer to build public support for the duty. We are delighted to learn that following Jamie’s ‘Sugar Rush’ documentary, over 150,000 signatures were received and the issue of a sugary drinks duty will be formally debated in Parliament on Monday 30th November.

Food Active is a healthy weight campaign, commissioned from local social enterprise, Health Equalities Group, by the North West Directors of Public Health. You can find out more at Food Active acknowledges the importance of the public’s appreciation of the impact excess sugar consumption has on health; particularly regarding the recent WHO and the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommendations to reduce daily energy intake from sugar from 10% to 5%.

Based on the revised guidance for sugar intake, children and young people in the UK are consuming almost triple the recommendations with sugary drinks being by far the largest contributor. Food Active’s Give Up Loving Pop (Gulp) campaign has been working with communities across the North West of England to raise awareness of the impact of excessive sugary drinks consumption and to build support for a sugary drinks duty.

Most recently, as a result of the recent Health Select Committee inquiry into childhood obesity, Public Health England have released their analysis of the evidence for a national sugar reduction strategy; this addresses issues such as fiscal measures and acknowledges their potential impact.

The Petitions Committee have agreed to hold a three-hour Westminster Hall debate- with MPs speaking for and against the introduction of a duty, and a response from a Government minister, from 4.30pm on the 30th November. Food Active would like to request you may consider the evidence in support of a duty on sugary drinks and consider taking part in the debate.

In addition, prior to the debate, the Health Select Committee will be launching its report of their inquiry into childhood obesity at 3.30pm during a special briefing event hosted by Sarah Wollaston MP, chair of the committee.]


The Food Active team.



Give Up Loving Pop for World Diabetes Day

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Saturday 14th November is World Diabetes Day which seeks to raise awareness of the condition and educate and inform the public about global efforts to deal with what is an escalating public health issue.

To support the day, the Give Up Loving Pop campaign is releasing a series of free resource packs which are packed with all the information that you need to kick sugary drinks from your diet.

Why Give Up Loving Pop?

Recent research conducted by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) indicates that consuming too many high-sugar beverages increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.(1)

Equally, data from the National Diet & Nutrition Survey indicate that sugary drinks are the main source of excess sugar in most people’s diets.(2)

So giving up sugary drinks is the easiest way to cut excess sugar from your diet!

Robin Ireland, Director of the Give Up Loving Pop campaign, said:

“We are pleased to be supporting World Diabetes Day with the release of our Gulp resource packs. The increase of type 2 diabetes in the UK is a worrying development. Not only is this a life-changing long-term health condition, but it is also placing increasing strain upon our already-stretched health care system.”

“But by giving up loving pop, we hope that people can begin to easily cut sugar from their diet and live healthier, happier lives. So don’t delay, kick the pop today.”

The Gulp resource packs are available via the individual links below:


Notes to editors:

Give Up Loving Pop is England’s first campaign highlighting the health harms associated with the consumption of sugary drinks. Launched in early-2015 the Give Up Loving Pop campaign is run by the Health Equalities Group; a Liverpool-based social enterprise whose mission is to improve the health of the public through informative health information campaigns. You can find out more about the Give Up Loving Pop campaign at:

For further information or to arrange interviews/quotes please contact our press officer on 0151 237 2686.


1. SACN Carbohydrates and Health Report, published 17th July 2015

2. Data derived from the National Diet & Nutrition Survey, rolling programme 2008-12.


Soda Politics2

Gulp featured in new ‘Soda Politics’ book

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We are proud to say that Give Up Loving Pop has made its way into the pages of a new book from renowned food writer and Professor of Nutrition, Marion Nestle.

Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda examines all of the ways that the soft drink industry works overtime to make drinking soda as common and accepted as drinking water, for adults and children. Soda Politics shows how sodas are principally miracles of advertising; Coca-Cola and PepsiCo spend billions of dollars each year to promote their sale to children, minorities, and low-income populations, in developing as well as industrialised nations. And once they have stimulated that demand, they leave no stone unturned to protect profits.

Give Up Loving Pop is referenced as a campaign that is successfully taking the fight to Big Soda and having an effect on the consumption of sugary drinks in the UK (see full quote below):

Soda Politics Gulp Reference



Cereal killers: the stealth sugars lurking in breakfast drinks

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New research from the Give Up Loving Pop (Gulp) campaign has revealed the extremely high levels of sugar in ‘breakfast drinks’; a new, fast-growing product category of drinks that have recently arrived in the UK.

  • 18 out of 20 breakfast drinks surveyed contain dangerously high levels of sugar (>13.5g/portion or 11.25g/100ml) contributing to tooth decay, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
  • Products such as Fuel 10k’s Chocolate Breakfast Milk Drink are slipping under the radar despite containing only three grams of sugar less than a standard can of Coca-Cola.
  • The ‘breakfast in a bottle’ concept- which includes products such as Fuel 10k, Weetabix On The Go, and Up&Go- is challenging the existing breakfast market, and has rapidly grown from nothing to £13m in three years. (1)
  • Breakfast is fast becoming an inconvenience in the UK; last year, Brits consumed breakfast on the go an estimated 205 million times, up 13% on the previous year (2), and more food-to-go solutions are expected.

Following the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s(SACN) report on Carbohydrates and Health (3) this summer, which suggested slashing our sugar intake by half, and vocal concerns about sugar from food campaigner, Jamie Oliver, breakfast drinks represent a new example of ‘stealthy sugars’.

Whilst the public are aware of the high sugar content of many popular soft drinks, and with the government facing calls to introduce a tax to reduce their consumption, research from the Give Up Loving Pop campaign reveals a new generation of breakfast drinks whose high sugar content is flying under the radar.

Stroll down the breakfast aisle in your local supermarket and you may not realise that breakfast drinks such as ‘Weetabix On The Go: Chocolate’ contain as much as 25g of sugar per serving (6 teaspoons). Similar offenders include the Up&Go Strawberry breakfast drink packed with 18.5g of sugar per serving (5 teaspoons). Demand for ‘breakfast in a bottle’ is growing rapidly creating a market worth £13million in less than three years.

With the UK’s growing obesity problem seeing no signs of slowing, public health campaigners are worried that the rise of breakfast drinks will draw the public away from healthier breakfast options and toward the consumption of breakfast drinks, that the research reveals, are often little better than Coca Cola.

Robin Ireland, Director of the Give Up Loving Pop campaign, comments:

“Breakfast should be the most important meal of the day, but with these ‘breakfast in a bottle’ drinks we’re seeing yet another avenue for sugar to infiltrate our daily diets. Our research reveals that the food and drink industry is still finding new and innovative ways to stealthily pack sugar into every meal of the day.”

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to anticipate where sugar will turn up next in food and drinks.”

“With the nation struggling with bulging waistlines, the last thing we need are more stealthy sugars in our food and drinks. Recent scientific recommendations suggest that we should limit our consumption to 25-35g of sugar per day at most. We stand little chance of meeting these recommendations when people are likely to be drinking breakfast drinks not knowing that they sometimes contain as much as 32g of sugar per serving, just 3g of sugar less than a can of Coca-Cola!”

“You would assume that breakfast in a bottle would be the healthy option in the morning; but with some of these breakfast drinks you are almost drinking as much sugar as a can of coke!”


1) The Grocer (2015). Can breakfast drinks really hit £100 million in the next five years? (Accessed 08/09/2015) from:

2) The Grocer (2015). Pace of life pushes up breakfast on the go occasions up 13% (Accessed 08/09/2015) from:

3) SACN. (2015). Carbohydrates and Health.

Appendix 1

Gulp Breakfast Drinks Survey 2015- All Data (PDF)

Notes to editors

  • Give Up Loving Pop is England’s first campaign highlighting the health harms associated with the consumption of sugary drinks;. Launched in early 2015 the Give Up Loving Pop campaign is run by the Health Equalities Group; a Liverpool-based social enterprise whose mission is to improve the health of the public through informative health information campaigns. You can find out more about the Give Up Loving Pop campaign at
  • Research details- full survey sorted by sugar (g) per serving.
  • 20 products were identified by searching for terms such as ‘breakfast drink’ and known brands through the online grocery websites of the big four supermarkets: Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.
  • Full product details can be found in Appendix 1.
  • Colour coding based on new front of pack colour-coded nutrition labelling criteria. Sugars: Red>13.5g/portion or >11.25g/100ml; Amber >2.5<11.25g/100ml; Green <2.25g/100ml
  • Research was carried out by Michael Viggars, Researcher at the Give Up Loving Pop campaign.
  • The breakfast cereal marketplace may ultimately lose out to the expediency of the ‘breakfast in a bottle’ concept which generated £6.6 million for the Weetabix On The Go drink range in the UK alone last year with Fuel 10k also pushing the £1 million mark. Australia’s Up&Go breakfast drink entered the UK market in January 2015 and other cereal producers, particularly respected cereal producers such as Kellogg’s who have an established US brand- Kellogg’s To Go- will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on how the marketplace develops.
  • All this comes at a time when breakfast on the go is booming. Brits have carried breakfast out of the home and eaten it an estimated 205 million times in the past year, an increase of 13.2%. Spar grocery trading manager Henry Goodchild said, “We expect to see further focus on food-to-go solutions such as cereal and porridge pots in order to take advantage of the trend of eating outside the home”.


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As Coca-Cola announce their Christmas Truck Tour, Director of the Give Up Loving Pop campaign, Robin Ireland, takes a closer look at the ‘Holidays Are Coming’ phenomenon.

The Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour is now in its twentieth year and has become a regular feature of festive TV schedules in more than 100 countries. In 2013, the truck’s tour website received nearly two million hits. In total, 200,000 people appeared in the photos taken from the visits and the hashtag #HolidaysAreComing was shared 57 million times. How do I know all this? Because every year the media more or less reprint Coca-Cola’s press release as shorthand to tell us Christmas (the ‘holidays?’) is in the way.

So that’s 57 million times Coca-Cola’s logo has been a backdrop to lots of smiling children and their mums and dads. Not the Diet Coke logo, not the Coca-Cola Zero logo and not the Coca-Cola Life brand. Nope, just good old American Coca-Cola in the original red and white colours. Coke argue that they don’t give out samples from their truck to children under 12 years- at least without parental consent. So they are not really promoting a sugary drink to young children then… and I believe in Father Christmas.

In case you missed the concern raised by Jamie Oliver and an army of health experts over the last year, just one can of standard Coca-Cola contains 7 teaspoons of sugar; enough sugar to total your recommended maximum daily amount in one long swallow.

Coca-Cola is the fourth most valuable brand in the world apparently (Forbes, 2015); after Apple, Microsoft and Google. A drink that may be more available than fresh water in some parts of the globe. And the sugary concoction that has taken over the Mexican market so completely (Coca-Cola controls 73% of the Mexican fizzy drinks market) that it is no surprise that Mexico has some of the worst problems with obesity and type 2 diabetes in the world. And also why Mexico imposed a Soda Tax in 2014.

So, why is it that our towns and cities welcome a mobile advert into the heart of our shopping areas when 25% of our five year olds have tooth decay, 20% of 10-11 year olds are obese and the NHS may cave in under the cost of treating type 2 diabetics?

That big shiny truck- half surprised Coke hasn’t signed up Jeremy Clarkson wearing a grey beard as well- is spreading more sugary nonsense on the back of linking itself to a festival we are all waiting for in this time of austerity. But Coca-Cola can afford it can’t they from those massive profits. The rest of us are struggling to buy presents and pay the dentist’s bill. For 80 years, Coca-Cola has used Santa Claus and Christmas to promote its sugary pop. Haven’t we grown up enough by now to say this is one present we can do without?


Would you like to bring That Sugar Film to your area?

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That Sugar Film is one man’s journey to discover the bitter truth about sugar. Damon Gameau embarks on a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as ‘healthy’. Through this entertaining and informative journey, Damon highlights some of the issues that plague the sugar industry, and where sugar lurks on supermarket shelves. That Sugar Film will forever change the way you think about ‘healthy’ food.

As part of our ongoing campaign to raise public awareness about the health harms associated with sugar consumption, Give Up Loving Pop & Food Active are offering you the chance to host That Sugar Film in your local area including a talk from the Food Active team (applies to North West England only). If you are interested in hosting a local film showing and would like to find out more please email: