Fizzy drinks are driving up childhood obesity in the UK and around the world, a study finds.
Researchers found that drinking one sip a day increased your risk of getting fat by 14 percent.
Almost four in ten British children are overweight or obese when they leave school, and the trend is rising.
dr Huan Hu of Japan’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said: “Reducing consumption of soft drinks is crucial to tackling adolescent obesity.
“Urgent action should be taken to curb the consumption of sugary drinks.”
One in ten children aged four to five in England last year was obese, and a further 12 per cent were overweight.
The numbers were higher among children aged 10 to 11, with nearly a quarter being obese and 14.3 percent being overweight in the same year.
Childhood obesity is associated with a number of deadly complications later in life, including heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
Experts have raised concerns about the rising numbers as hospital admissions for obesity among under-17s surge by 40 percent in a year in 2021-2022.
Last month the NHS announced it was opening 10 more clinics for obese children to meet rising demand.
The latest study, published in the JAMA Network Open, examined data from 405,528 teenagers in 107 countries.
Overweight and obesity rates ranged from 3.3 percent in Cambodia to 64 percent on the Pacific island of Niue.
The proportion of children who drank one or more cans per day also varied at similar levels, from 3.3 percent in Iceland to 79.6 percent in Niue.
Drinking these beverages is “inextricably linked to obesity,” researchers said.
For every 10 percent more children drinking soft drinks daily, the obesity rate increased by 3.3 percent.
They said the best way for countries to reduce the number of overweight or obese children is to introduce a sugar tax.
Professor Graham MacGregor of Queen Mary University of London said: “When it comes to tackling childhood obesity, our current government has wasted time and lost lives.”
“Only one measure, the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, was successful.
“This simple and practical approach would benefit the most vulnerable in our society and save the NHS billions of pounds every year.”