THERE is no end to experts’ concern over youngsters’ relentless consumption of sugary drinks. Time and again, studies address the impact on teeth and general health of consumption of such drinks. Diets high in sugar have been linked to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and gout.

Last April the UK government launched its Soft Drinks Industry Levy, asserting that millions of children would benefit from this “key” milestone in tackling childhood obesity. The Treasury said the measure had already seen more than 50% of manufacturers reducing drinks’ sugar content since it was announced in March 2016. The British Soft Drinks Association says soft-drinks companies have led the way in sugar reduction, down almost 19 per cent (from soft drinks) since 2013. So progress has been made on a consumer habit that could, in time, pose substantial challenges for the NHS. But it never does to assume that the battle is being won, as evidenced by figures produced by Cancer Research UK.

First was the startling statistic that Scottish children consume almost 4.4 million soft drinks each and every week, the equivalent of more than 600,000 every day. The calculations, covering fizzy drinks, energy drinks and diluting juice with added sugar, were derived from official Scottish Government data. Even taking into account the reduction in sugar brought about in recent years, it is a depressingly high figure. The drinks still contain sugar; the consequent health risks remain.

The charity’s suggestion that Holyrood restrict supermarket multi-buy offers on junk food and sugary drinks is, on the face of it, a sound one, though more research might be in order. The Scottish Government’s mantra on minimum-unit alcohol pricing - that Scotland’s alcohol problem is so significant that groundbreaking measures are required - could conceivably apply to soft-drink multi-buys too. Further public-education programmes might also be needed. The sugar tax, on its own, is not quite enough.