Experts call for ban on Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour
THE Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour should be banned, public health experts say.
The lorry last year visited Queen Street in Cardiff – while the 2015 visit to the capital was overshadowed by huge queues when it visited Asda in Coryton.
But the visits have proved controversial, with health visitors and dental nurses at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) Health Board last November expressing concerns over its impact on children’s dental health.
Now more medics have added their voices to those arguments, saying the bright red truck – which made 44 stops across the UK as part of a nationwide tour last Christmas – promotes the consumption of unhealthy sugary drinks, particularly to children.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, Robin Ireland, director of Food Active, a campaign which wants to tackle rising obesity levels, and John Ashton, a public health consultant, said CocaCola was intent on shaping public opinion through its marketing techniques.
It said the company wants to “frame the debate around healthy weight” by sponsoring events, funding community sports activities and raising funds to distribute food for people in need. Yet a single can of Coca-Cola contains seven teaspoons of sugar, according to information on the Coca-Cola website.
The experts wrote: “At Christmas, Coca-Cola’s marketing goes into overdrive as newspapers across the country regurgitate press releases for its Christmas truck tour, with advertorials promoting the truck as a Christmas tradition. And of course the truck is just the latest of Coca-Cola’s campaigns to become a holiday brand and, indeed, to help brand Santa Claus himself.”
Five public health directors and members of the Faculty of Public Health, among others, signed a letter saying: “We can celebrate without allowing Coca-Cola to hijack Christmas by bringing false gifts of bad teeth and weight problems to our children.”
They added: “Should this form of advertising and marketing be banned, given the growing evidence of the effect that marketing of unhealthy food and drink has on children? We believe it should and will continue to push for national action from organisations such as Public Health England to stop similar campaigns next Christmas.”
In November, dental nurse and ABMU lead for the Designed to Smile children’s dental programme, Mandy Silva, said: “The Coca-Cola truck is fast becoming a Christmas icon as our towns and cities give the go-ahead for it to tour around, handing out free samples. We don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, but it’s not fun to have decayed teeth either. We want children and young people to enjoy Christmas with healthy smiles.”