Coca-Cola is to reduce its profile in British schools. The company announced yesterday that it will remove its branding from 4,000 vending machines in schools by September following government concerns about the effect of the advertising on children's health.

The move is part of the growing trend within the soft drinks industry to head off criticism from the government and pressure groups. The rising profile of child obesity in the UK has forced companies like Coca-Cola to take pre-emptive action.

Last month, a deal was announced that would see branding on machines in Scottish schools be removed. Newspaper reports at the time claimed that ministers in Scotland had considered banning vending machines outright in schools, but reneged when they decided that children would merely leave schools at break times to buy the products.

It is widely expected that other vending machine operators will follow suit in the coming months.