Coca-Cola Amatil NZ boss Chris Litchfield says soft drinks are fine in moderation
A bottling manager for Coca-Cola says the only thing unhealthy about the fizzy beverage is the way some people drink it.
Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand managing director Chris Litchfield said he had always been a big Coca-Cola drinker, developing a taste for the global brand in his late teens.
However, Litchfield admitted his three young children were not allowed to drink Coke because of its caffeine content.
Coca-Cola products were not marketed towards children under the age of 12, and soft drinks were not sold to schools, he said.
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Litchfield said he would not recommend Coke for children under 10, but it was up to parents.
"We believe parents are the best people to make choices for their kids."
The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education had started encouraging schools to adopt policies to limit drink choices on school grounds to milk and water.
The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board removed diet soft drinks, juices, flavoured water and smoothies from hospital shelves and menus in May.
It was the first health board in the country to target artificially sweetened drinks.
Litchfield's children, aged between 5 and 10, were allowed to drink L&P or Sprite on special occasions, he said.
"There's nothing unhealthy in our beverages, only potentially an unhealthy way to consume them."
Litchfield said he switched to Diet Coke in his 20s, and would drink up to seven cans a day in summer if the weather was hot.
He drank Diet Coke in the morning and the afternoon, as part of a balanced lifestyle.
Litchfield would not comment directly on whether sugary drinks should be available in hospitals, but said drinking soft drinks in moderation was fine.
"We're big on people having choice and being well-educated on how to use their choice."
Coca-Cola Amatil NZ is the authorised manufacturer and distributor of Coca-Cola beverage brands in New Zealand.
The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board in June called for an end to sponsorship deals between sports teams and soft drink companies as part of its submission on an Advertising Standards Authority Review.
The submission used the example of a 5-year-old All Blacks fan who arrived at hospital to have several teeth removed drinking Powerade "because Richie does".
- The Marlborough Express