SUGAR campaigners will protest the arrival of the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck in Bournemouth today.

The famous truck will be in the Triangle for two days. Members of Bournemouth and Poole's Sugar Smart campaign - spearheaded by Jamie Oliver and the charity Sustain - say sugary drinks contribute to child obesity.

Volunteers who call themselves the 'tooth fairies' will stand alongside the truck handing out free water and toothbrushes from 3.30pm today.

Sarah Watson, manager of the Sustainable Food City Partnership, said: “What better way to start our campaign to encourage people to go Sugar Smart than when the Coca-Cola truck is stopping off in our town.

"We are concerned that their visit will contribute to the consumption of sugary drinks by children, all under the guise of festive fun.

"Public health experts are urging parents to reduce the quantity and frequency of foods and drinks that contain sugar and we want to help get that message out to everyone in our communities."

Recent research shows junk food companies spend 27 times more on advertising than the government has available for promoting healthy eating.

Campaigners say one in five children living in the area are already overweight or obese by the time they start primary school. The figure increases to one in three by the time they finish year six, it is said.

Paul Cartwright, chairman of Bournemouth and Poole branch of the Sustainable Food City Partnership, said: “We know that advertising and marketing is influential when it comes to choosing unhealthy foods, which is why we don’t want to see the promotion of high sugar drinks in Bournemouth and Poole this Christmas.

“We are encouraging people to swap high sugar drinks for water, look out for Dorset Refill businesses to fill up their water bottles and look for ways to reduce the amount of sugar they and their families consume.

“We are delighted to have our very own Sugar Smart campaign being delivered across Bournemouth and Poole. We know that people absolutely support this approach and we are looking for help from businesses, caterers, schools, hospitals and restaurants to reduce the amount of sugar in the food and drink available."