A health chief is urging Coca-Cola not to offer children sugary drinks as its festive truck visits Glasgow this weekend.

Dr Linda de Caestecker, director of public health at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, urged the drinks giant to act responsibly and promote a healthy start by only offering sugar-free drinks or water.

The Coca-Cola truck will visit Silverburn Shopping Centre on November 11 and Asda Robroyston on November 12 as part of its festive tour of the UK.

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Dr de Caestecker said the population is already consuming too much sugar and warned that drastic action is needed to tackle childhood obesity.

Latest figures show that almost one in five children are overweight or obese when they start primary school and almost one in three by the time they leave primary school, and she fears half of all children will be overweight or obese by 2020 unless action is taken.

Evening Times:

She said: "There is a lot of excitement for children when the Coca-Cola festive truck visits towns up and down the country.

"This weekend the truck is visiting two venues in Glasgow and I am asking them to help us provide a healthy start for young children by only offering sugar-free drinks or water.

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"We are asking Coca-Cola to stop promoting sugary drinks during the 'Happy Holidays' truck tour and only distribute sugar-free drinks and water to the general public, in particular to children.

"We ask that Coca-Cola takes responsibility as an influential brand and support customers to make healthier choices.

"It is not just Coca-Cola but all commercial organisations who can help tackle childhood obesity and put to rest the myth that 'sugar-free drinks are as bad or worse than sugary drinks'.

"Our population is already consuming too much sugar and a small can of standard Cola contains almost the maximum daily amount of sugar recommended for a small child.

"It is not, therefore, just a small festive treat but gives a very poor message to families."

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She is calling on the parents of children and young people to offer their children only sugar-free drinks or water which she said is healthier and better for their teeth.

However she said that many people, including public health officials, are concerned about the wider impacts of shifting consumption habits from sugary food and drinks to those that are artificially sweetened.

She said: "There is currently conflicting research on the wider health implications of over-consumption of artificially sweetened products.

"While artificially sweetened beverages can be useful for those individuals with a high intake of sugary drinks, especially those above a healthy weight, this is only a temporary measure.

"In the long term, individuals should aim to break their reliance on sweet-tasting foods."