Sugar-packed fizzy drinks are just as dangerous to health as cigarettes, health experts have warned.
Experts want hard-hitting public awareness campaigns to attack what they say are “manufacturers’ misleading promotions that distract from the health risks”.
“Emerging science on the addictiveness of sugar, especially combined with the known addictive properties of caffeine in many sugary beverages, should heighten awareness of the health threat similar to the understanding about the addictiveness of tobacco products,” the Daily Express quoted public health expert Dr Lori Dorfman as saying.
Dorfman, from the University of California, and colleagues want soft drinks companies to stop “explicitly targeting young people” in an “aim to increase sales”.
Drinking just two cans of fizzy pop a day has been shown to cause severe long-term liver damage, a condition normally the result of chronic alcohol abuse.
It can lead to victims needing a transplant because the liver cannot process the huge amount of sugar.
Too many soft drinks can potentially cause diabetes and heart damage as well as being a major contributor to obesity.
Diet drinks in particular have been shown to pile on the pounds because, even though they have fewer calories than regular fizzy pop, they can trigger the appetite to eat more.
Those who binge on diet soft drinks every day have been shown to have 70 percent bigger waists after a decade.
“There is no comparison to be drawn between tobacco and soft drinks,” a spokesman for the British Soft Drinks Association said.
“Tobacco is harmful in any quantity and any reduction in consumption is a positive step for health.
“In the case of food and drink, it is the imbalance between calorie intake and calorie expenditure that is the cause of obesity and not the intake of calories as such, still less the intake of calories from any particular food or drink. These two situations are entirely different,” the spokesman added.