Coca-Cola's Christmas truck should be banned from touring Britain to help fight the child obesity crisis, health experts say.

The soft drinks giant’s advertisement stunt parked up in Leyton Mills in the run up to Christmas, dishing out free cans of fizz to a large crowd, including children.

Experts writing in the British Medical Journal said these marketing techniques encourage unhealthy habits in children, which the Government should be doing more to tackle.

Public health consultant John Ashton and Food Active director Robin Ireland said Coca-Cola’s tour should be banned.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Coca-Cola workers handed out free cans in Leyton before Christmas 

They 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.

"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 we will continue to push for national action from organisations such as Public Health England to stop similar campaigns next Christmas."

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

People were invited to take selfies next to the truck

At the eight-hour long event in Leyton last month, checkout leader at Asda’s Leyton Mills store Naina Patel said: “Kids see it on the TV and get so excited, so to see it in real life is going to make their Christmases.”

Soft drinks are the biggest source of sugar in the diet of children and teenagers, according to the most recent data collected by Public Health England.

For 11-to 18-year-olds sweet drinks make up 38 per cent of sugar intake, and for younger children, aged four to ten, they contribute 27 per cent.

A spokesperson for Coca-Cola Great Britain said: “We had a really positive response from consumers to last year's Christmas truck tour.

“As part of the experience people could enjoy a small 150ml can of Coca-Cola Classic or one of our two no-sugar options - Diet Coke or Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.

'We operate the tour in line with our responsible marketing policy and we do not provide drinks to under-12s unless their parent or guardian is present and happy for us to do so.

“We will continue to take actions to help people to reduce the sugar they consume from our range of drinks, but the evidence suggests the current focus on sugar and soft drinks alone will not address the problem.”

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