The European soft drinks industry, represented by UNESDA, has announced that it will voluntarily cease sales of drinks containing added sugars in secondary schools across the EU.

The new voluntary move expands on the existing decade young policy of banning soft drinks from primary schools and will impact around 50,000 secondary schools and more than 40 million young people.

The commitment for secondary schools is being introduced across the 28 European Union member countries, with complete implementation planned for the end of 2018. From then onwards, UNESDA members will only provide no  and low calorie soft drinks to secondary schools.

Members of UNESDA include Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Red Bull and Britvic. The pledge builds on a 2006 policy to not sell any beverages in primary schools or advertise to children under 12.

It was reported that there has been a 95% compliance with this pledge, covering around 28 million pupils.

The initiative responds to the changing food environment and acknowledges that special care is required in schools.

WHO Europe’s report Adolescent obesity and related behaviours, trends and inequalities 2002-2014 confirms the recent notable decreases in reported consumption of sugared soft drinks.