London Eye now Coca-Cola’s

Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the London Eye has outraged health campaigners.
Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the London Eye has outraged health campaigners.

Following debate at the end of last year as to whether the UK government should introduce a sugary drinks duty, to help pay for the health costs of fizzy drinks, UK health groups are up-in-arms about the sponsorship of London’s iconic London Eye by Coca Cola.

After closing for its annual maintenance period in early January, the London Eye reopened last week as the Coca-Cola London Eye. The sponsorship deal means each pod of the Eye has Coca-Cola branding inside, staff wear red tops with Coca-Cola stamped on the back, security staff wear branded beanie hats, all the cafes in the ticket office have large Coca-Cola posters, and the wheel no longer shines blue at night, but Coca-Cola red.

The move has concerned medical professionals and children’s charities. As co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, Malcolm Clark and his team of volunteers handed out 500 toothbrushes to visitors to the Eye—the same as the number of children aged 5 to 9 hospitalised every week due to tooth decay. “It’s totally inappropriate for a major family attraction to be sponsored by a sugary drinks company. Soft drinks are the largest source of sugar in children and teenagers’ diets, associated with weight gain and obesity, diabetes, heart disease and poor dental health.”

In a blog post, the British Dental Health foundation said, “The dangers of tobacco and alcohol use are very well documented… However there are several places we can go to seek help quitting those potentially dangerous habits. But that is not the case with this country’s – and indeed others worldwide – health ticking time bomb. If I am addicted to sugar, I cannot take up counselling. If I’m addicted to sugar, there are no aids out there that will help me quit. Health experts are increasingly labelling sugar as ‘just as bad as tobacco’. If this truly is the case, we must lobby for sugar to be treated like alcohol and tobacco. They should adhere to the same advertising rules. The London Eye had an opportunity to take a stance against sugar. It did not.”

Merlin Entertainment, which owns the London Eye, says Coca-Cola’s relationship with health is not a concern. Sahrette Saayman, Merlin’s communications officer, said: “Our customers are free to consume what they want. Coca-Cola will bring fun activities to the London Eye, which is something we’re looking forward to and delighted about.”

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