The move is part of a government effort to tackle obesity

The move is part of a government effort to tackle obesity

Three UK soft drinks companies have agreed to reduce calories in their products by up to one-tenth as part of a UK Government anti-obesity drive.

GlaxoSmithKline will cut the sugar and calories contents by "up to" 10% in its Lucozade and Ribena brands before the end of the year, UK public health minister Anna Soubry said today (22 January). Irn Bru maker AG Barr also promised to reduce calories in its portfolio, by 5% by 2016.

And Barr's merger partner, Britvic, pledged to launch its J2O brand in a 25cl slim-line can.

The companies were three of eight UK firms that signed up to the Government's Responsibility Deal today, joining existing signatories Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCo. The deal is an effort to 'nudge' companies into changes, as an alternative to legislation. 

Prior to the announcement, the UK's Food & Drink Federation (FDF) had praised industry attempts to cut sugar from products.

"We are seeing real, measurable results," PepsiCo UK and Ireland president Richard Evans, who chairs the FDF's health and wellbeing group, said today. "UK food and drink manufacturers are acutely aware of their responsibilities - to their customers and employees, and to the environment around them.”

Soft drinks producers have been under fresh pressure this year to take steps to cut sugar from drinks, as well as to improve healthy options for consumers.

Labour, the UK's main opposition party, has called for legal limits on sugar, fat and salt in foods marketed to children, based on OECD figures showing that 26.6% of UK girls and 22.7% of boys are considered overweight or obese.

Last week Coca-Cola launched an advert tackling the issue of obesity in response to criticism over the high sugar content in some of its products.