Reports that children are drinking more than 30 times as many soft drinks than in the Fifties come as no surprise to health care professionals.

They witness the fall-out in terms of obesity, lowered immunity, diabetes, fragile bones and mental health problems.

Drip-feeding children sugary or artificially-sweetened water weakens their bodies slowly and steadily, and, as far as I'm concerned, should be classified as a form of abuse.

It is no use just blaming the parents. The more we bang on about nutrition, the more our kids are driven to soft drinks since they are not generally in the habit of taking on the views of their parents.

What we need is more help from the medics explaining that although multi-coloured soft drinks are freely available, it doesn't mean they are healthy. On the contrary, the addictive nature of sugar can lead to other addictions (caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, drugs) or eating disorders.

There are many teachers who already refuse to allow fizzy pop across the threshold of their schools.

Finally, and I admit this is pure fantasy, could politicians arrange to have beverages containing sweeteners and additives pulled off the shelves faster than you can say Coca Cola?

There is little point in spending money on nonsensical trials into why kids prefer pink frothy bubbles to a cheap and nutritious alternative called water.

The fact is they do and therefore need little encouragement from advertising campaigns.

You will often hear crooked debating tactics used by companies to ensure liability is evaded at all costs, leaving families to face the music on their own.

"Where's the evidence our products cause chronic health problems?" scream the fizzy drinks manufacturers and their salesmen.

It is not difficult to find -

take a look in our homes, schools, street corners, hospitals and detention centres.

Next to air, water is the most critical substance our body requires in order to survive. The human body is 70 per cent "topping up".

Water is used to transport nutrients and waste products and provides the best medium for all biochemical reactions taking place inside us.

The purer, the better -

anything that is added merely interferes with the reactions that are going on and gives the body more work to do.

In his famous book Your Body's Many Cries For Water: You Are Not Sick, You Are Thirsty, Dr F Batmanghelidj made a series of powerful statements:

Pure water is a natural medication for a variety of health conditions.

Chronic cellular dehydration can painfully and prematurely kill. Its initial outward manifestations have until now been labelled as diseases of unknown origin.

Pure water is the cheapest form of medicine to a dehydrated body.

Dehydration causes stress and stress will cause further dehydration.

You can save yourself much money and the anxiety of falling ill by paying attention to your body's constant need for pure water.

Maybe it is not so difficult, after all, to tap into the elixir of life and access the fountain of youth.

Martina is a qualified
nutritionist at the Crescent Clinic of Complementary Medicine, 37 Vernon Terrace, Brighton. Tel: 01273 202221 or email: martina_watts