Campaigners praise Tesco as it cuts sugar levels in soft drinks
Tesco has cut the amount of sugar in its own brand soft drinks as part of the fight against obesity.
The supermarket giant said it had halved the sugar content in products including Tesco Cola as part of a continued drive to meet official recommendations on nutrition.
Some 50 products have seen sugar levels cut to below 5g per 100ml in the final step of a reformulation of its 251-strong range that began in 2011, the retailer added.
The move comes ahead of the introduction of the proposed levy on sugary drinks from 2018, in which products with 5g of sugar per 100ml will face a lower rate of tax while those with more than 8g per 100ml will face a higher rate.
Health campaigners and the Government welcomed Tesco's announcement.
Matt Davies, Tesco UK and Ireland chief executive said: "This is just one part of our plans to make the food on our shelves healthier by reducing levels of sugar, salt and fat in our own brands.
"We have worked to make sure our soft drinks still taste great, just with less sugar. Tesco customers are now consuming on average over 20 per cent less sugar from our soft drinks than in 2011.
"We're hoping this initiative will help make it a little easier for our customers to live more healthily."
Chris Askew, Diabetes UK chief executive, urged other retailers to follow suit.
He said: "Helping customers lead healthier lives by reducing sugar in its own brand soft drinks is a welcome move by Tesco. Similar action from other manufacturers and retailers to make products lower in sugar, saturated fat and salt is vital to tackle rising rates of obesity in the UK.
"Making the healthy choice the easy choice for all of us will help to tackle the rapidly rising number of people developing Type 2 diabetes."
Public health minister Nicola Blackwood said: "It is great to see Tesco leading the field by reducing the level of sugar in their own brand drinks. It is proof that taking added sugar out of drinks is both possible and in line with what customers want.
"The Government's sugar levy is designed to encourage manufacturers to cut the sugar from their products before the levy comes into force in 2018. Responsible actions like this are so important in our fight against childhood obesity."
Tesco said it had also reduced the amount of salt, fat and sugar in more than 4,200 own-brand products and vowed to do so in 1,000 more each year for the next three years.
For example, some 65 tonnes of fat, 600 tonnes of sugar and 27 tonnes of salt had been removed from its range of cooking sauces.
The new reduced sugar drinks range will be in stores from Friday November 11.