Leading Sefton health figures say ‘no’ to sugary drinks as part of GULP campaign!

Sefton Council is working with Food Active to promote the new GULP (Give Up Loving Pop) Early Years campaign called ‘Kind to Teeth’.

The campaign aims to improve knowledge and raise awareness of the health risks associated with consumption of sugary drinks in under-fives.

Developed by registered nutritionists, the campaign has been launched as part of National Smile Month and is the UK’s largest and longest running campaign to promote good oral health.

Research shows that by the age of five, nearly a third of children had obvious decay in their milk teeth.  In another study, 12% of three-year-olds were found to have evidence of tooth decay having on average three decayed, missing or filled teeth – and sugary drinks are a major part of the problem.

This is despite the fact that babies are only recommended to consume breast milk (or formula milk if necessary) until six months and then milk and water are the best sources of hydration for babies and young children.

Sugar is not necessary for the diet, especially for children and when consumed in the form of sugary drinks, can cause a whole host of health issues, from tooth decay to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Lots of sugar can often be hiding in many baby juices and other sugary drinks marketed at the early years.

The Kind to Teeth campaign has been developed by registered nutritionists, dental health and early year’s specialists and forms part of the well-known GULP campaign.  It is aimed at parents of children under five years of age, to help promote healthier drinking habits in the early years and will involve a number of electronic resources for local authorities to utilise.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Improving the health of Sefton’s young children is a key priority for us, so I am very pleased that the Kind to Teeth campaign is being promoted in Sefton.

“Nearly a quarter of our 5-year-olds start school with dental decay and a quarter in Reception year are overweight or are an unhealthy weight by the time they start school. Tackling unhealthy drink habits in the early years is a crucial preventative measure to protect our young children against poor dental health and weight gain”

Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Sefton and Knowsley, added: “When children are young, we have a fantastic opportunity to influence healthy food and drink patterns, as habits are often established when children are young.

“This campaign will help to educate parents on the health risks associated with consuming sugary drinks in the early years, and emphasise that water is the best source of hydration for their young one. We hope it will help to influence healthy drinking patterns from the early years and throughout their growth and development into adulthood.”

Sefton supports Give Up Loving Pop (GULP) health campaign

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.