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.