This month sees the launch of the Sefton GULP Campaign. Across Sefton, 24.7% of reception age children are overweight or obese, rising to 35.2% at year 6 and 69.7% of adults. And whilst dental health is better than some of our neighbouring local authorities, 22.7% of five year olds still have decay in their milk teeth.
Children and young people are consuming more than three times as much sugar as the maximum recommended daily intake, most of which comes from sugary drinks. A recent World Cancer Research Fund study found that our young people are drinking three bath tubs of sugary drinks per year!
The recommended daily maximum is no more than five cubes of sugar for 4 to 6 year olds, no more than six cubes for 7 to 10 year olds per day and no more than seven cubes for 11 years and older, including adults. Now bear in mind that one can of Cola can contain nine cubes alone, this is before we have considered any added sugar contained within food and other drinks.
Sugar is not necessary in the diet and especially when consumed in the form of sugary drinks can cause a whole host of health issues, from tooth decay, to obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Excess sugar intake has also been linked to certain cancers.
An easy way to reduce sugar intake is to cut out or reduce sugary drinks. And this is why along with Food Active, Sefton Council are running a borough-wide campaign to encourage residents to Give Up Loving Pop (GULP).
The GULP campaign is aimed at young people and families to encourage them to switch from sugary drinks to water or milk. The Sefton campaign involves working with schools through the delivery of PSHE lessons at both Key Stage 2 and 3, along with school assemblies suitable for all year groups. Sefton Council and Food Active have teamed up with Everton in the Community to deliver theory and physical activity sessions to year 5 and 6 students across schools in the borough. Using community coaches to deliver health messages, such as GULP, has been shown to be effective in changing behaviour.
During April we will be challenging students, teachers and parents to give up sugary drinks. Residents can sign up the challenge via a website and will receive encouraging emails, there will be a prize draw for those who let us know whether they were successful or not.
Sefton schools will also be challenged to enter an inter-school competition. Primary schools classes will be asked to design and deliver an assembly to the rest of the school to encourage reduced consumption in sugary drinks, whilst secondary schools will be asked to design a campaign based on soft drinks industry tactics. With just one entry per school, the students must choose which entry to take forward. A panel will judge the entries with a prize-giving ceremony at the start of June.
Cllr Ian Moncur, Cabinet member, Health and Wellbeing said:
“Children have far too much sugar in their diet, and much of this comes in the form of sugary drinks. Not only is this causing problems for children and young people now in terms of tooth decay and weight gain, but continued over-consumption of sugar can lead to problems in later life.
Evidence shows that regardless of weight, consumption of sugary drinks can lead to cardiac and metabolic issues in adulthood.
“We are also aware of the effect that sugary drinks, especially in the form of energy and sports drinks can have on behaviour during school and academic performance. The GULP campaign will educate our young people about the benefits of switching to water or milk and we hope that the messages will be taken home, to impact on family and friends.
“We are excited to have the inter-school competitions which we hope will really engage the schools in the campaign. I look forward to being on the judging panel.”
Mike McSorley, Head of Schools and Families said:
“Delivering sessions on sugary drinks in schools is essential before children become accustomed to the taste of liquid sugar. The GULP sessions were smart, encouraging children to be inquisitive and question the world around them, but also gave them the knowledge and skills to make up their own minds about sugary drinks and what is best for their education and for playing sport.
The resources encouraged the pupils to think about the sugar content of what they drink daily and encouraged them to get the message to others not only in school but at home also.”