India has asked US soft drinks giant PepsiCo to reduce the sugar content of its sodas as the country battles growing levels of obesity and diabetes. PepsiCo chairman Indra Nooyi met food processing industry minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal during a visit to India to discuss its plans for healthier options and investing in India. “PepsiCo has been requested to further bring down the sugar content of soft drinks so that the health aspects of such products are duly taken care of,” the ministry said in a statement after the meeting.

Undernutrition remains rampant in India, but soft drinks and fast food consumption has increased among the middle classes as incomes have risen, leading to a rise in obesity and diabetes levels. The soft drinks giant has been replacing some of the sugar in its fizzy drinks with stevia, a natural sweetener which is widely used in Europe and parts of Asia. But it has not been able to do so in India because the substance has not been approved for consumption.

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