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Focus on obesity - soft drinks under the spotlight

The figures speak for themselves, say Health experts, here in the West Country 22.3% of four to five year olds are either overweight or obese.

And that figure increases the older our children get - with 30.5% of 10 to 11 year olds in the South West being classed as too big. That's according to Public Health England.

So great is the impact of obesity on our health, in the UK 2.5 million people have Type 2 Diabetes and according to Public Health England, 90% of those people are overweight or obese.

Find out if you're a healthy weight by using our obesity checker.

2.5m
People have Type 2 diabetes
90%
Of those people are overweight or obese
George Osborne announces the Sugar Tax in parliament Credit: ITV News

And it's sombre statistics like those that in his budget last week saw the Chancellor George Osborne announce the Sugar tax.

This levy won't be introduced for another two years, giving soft drinks manufacturers the opportunity to alter their ingredients.

What it could mean though is that a can of Coca Cola which costs on average around 70p, could cost consumers around another seven or eight pence.

TV chef Jamie Oliver and Totnes MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston are delighted at the promised sugar tax Credit: ITV News

"Sugary sweetened drinks are the single biggest contributor to sugar in children's diets and sugar is one of the very important parts that we can very easily cut down and reduce and of course that doesn't mean to say that fat isn't important as well it is but sugar is hugely important in contributing to childhood obesity."

– SARAH WOLLASTON MP

But while Public Health Cornwall welcomes the sugar tax, it says more still needs to be done.

"There are some other recommendations as well around things like cutting down advertising of sugary foods, particularly for children, also stopping promotions on high sugar foods, so the buy one get one free type approach that a lot of the supermarkets use and also reformulating processed foods so there's not so much sugar in food and cutting down portion sizes - so they're all helpful but sugar tax is an interesting one."

– DR CAROLINE COURT, Interim Director of Public Health
Four year old Eden's weight was classed as Credit: ITV News

West Country mum Chanelle Thaws is one mum already addressing her daughter's diet. Four year old Eden has a BMI (Body mass index) of 26.1. For children of her age, it should be anywhere between 14 and 17.8.

"I cried, I cried my eyes out because it felt like someone was saying to me, 'you've made your daughter fat' and in so many circumstances yes I had helped it, so when it got pointed out yes it felt like a personal attack, it felt like everyone because on one hand I was walking through the streets and everyone was going 'oh look at her isn't she so cute, look at her cheeks' and then on the other hand I got people complaining that she can't get up as quick as other school children."

– CHANELLE THAWS, Eden's mother:

Since January Eden's now been attending a special council run group aimed at educating both parents and their children to make healthier choices.

This Somerset nursery has cut added sugar from its meals Credit: ITV News

Topps Nursery in Taunton is one of a growing number of nurseries that a short time ago made the decision to cut added sugar from the food it offers.

So with the food it's teamed with a physical activity in the nursery but the food we've taken out the added sugar so there are hidden sugars in all foods so what we're doing is we're putting in the granulated sugars and the sweeteners, so they're having lots of fruit, vegetables, we've got apricot rice today just to sweeten up the rice for them so it's those things rather than the sugars we put in."

– DIANE WYCHERLEY, TOPS DAY NURSERY, MUSGROVE, TAUNTON

Many soft drink manufacturers say their industry's been unfairly singled out but with today's children consuming three times the recommended level of sugar, the Government says this is just the start of weaning us all off the sweet stuff.

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