The BSDA has pointed to a fall in calorie consumption from soft drinks in recent times

The BSDA has pointed to a fall in calorie consumption from soft drinks in recent times

A senior figure from the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) has questioned the extent the industry is responsible for obesity in light of an overall fall in calorie consumption. 

Richard Laming, the BSDA's media director, told delegates at the Soft Drinks International Conference yesterday (18 May) that the industry is “accused in some quarters for being responsible for obesity”. But he added: “If you actually look at closer at what's going you'll see that in mature markets consumption of calories are in decline. 

“The drinks with fewer calories are the ones that are becoming more interesting to many consumers.

He added: “So how can it be that if calorie (consumption) is on the way down, obesity in on the way up. How can we be responsible for that?” 

A report published by the BSDA earlier this month showed that more than a third of UK soft drinks carbonates consumption is now diet,  low calorie or no-added sugar. 

Laming said that “everybody has a part to play in fixing this problem”. All the soft drinks industry could do, he said, was “encourage” people to take an interest in what they consumed and educate themselves.

Earlier, Laming admitted it had not been an easy year, with “media and public scrutiny on the up” for the industry. 

In January this year, the BSDA's director general of 12 years, Jill Ardagh, stepped down. The group has yet to replace her and Laming said it was proving “almost impossible” to find the right person to fill the role.