The British Soft Drinks Association has attacked the Natural Hydration Council for its recently-announced advertising campaign, designed to promote bottled water in the UK.

The council (NHC), set up last year by Danone Waters (UK & Ireland) Ltd, Highland Spring and Nestlé Waters UK, said earlier this week that it will run a campaign highlighting that a fall in sales of bottled water in the UK is down to consumers buying more "sugary drinks" rather than switching to tap water.

"Rather than turning on the tap, people are turning to sugary drinks, and the switching equates to pouring an extra 1,700 tonnes of sugar and 6.8bn calories into the nation's diet," the NHC claimed.

Responding to the announcement yesterday (22 April), the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) described the approach as "a shame".

"It is good to see the benefits of bottled water and the importance of hydration being highlighted," the BSDA said, "but it is a shame that the NHC has done this by suggesting a link between the consumption of sugary soft drinks and obesity.

"Obesity is a complex issue and has many contributory factors, such as the decline in physical activity, and all aspects of diet and lifestyle need to be taken into account."

The association also pointed out that all soft drinks count towards the government's recommended hydration target. "Providing people with a choice of beverages helps ensure they drink enough," it added. "Variety of drinks choice is key."

Around 60% of soft drinks are now low calorie or no added sugar, the association claimed.

No-one was immediately available for further comment at the NHC when contacted by just-drinks today.