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Tameside prepares to Give Up Loving Pop

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Tameside Public Health with partners are in the final stage of preparing for a four week GULP challenge across their 15 secondary schools. Following February half term, the Schools For Health team will visit each of the secondary schools and deliver an assembly for all year 9 students on the harms related to sugary drinks. The students will then be challenged to Give Up Loving Pop for four weeks!

Once they have signed up via the GULP website, students will each be given a water bottle and information leaflet to encourage them to complete the challenge. Weekly, encouraging emails will let students know how far they have come, detailing the calories, sugar and money they may have saved through switching to water. Each school will also be provided with the GULP PSHE lesson plans for delivery through their teaching staff and other visual material including banners and posters.

Tameside are excited to see the results of the challenge and behaviour change will be monitored through pre and post-challenge questionnaires. We hope that the messages will be cascaded through the school and even make it home to influence families and friends.

Charlotte, Public Health Programme Officer at Tameside and lead for the campaign said: “We are delighted to see that our Tameside secondary schools are engaging in this all important campaign. We know teenagers in England are the biggest consumers of sugar-sweetened drinks in Europe and that sugar consumption increases the risk of consuming too many calories, the risk of tooth decay, increased risk of type 2 diabetes and linked to higher weight in children. Further to the work with Food Active and the GULP Challenge we hope to see a change in attitudes and behaviour. We are very excited to see the results and importantly sustaining the energy of our schools”.

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British Soft Drinks Association sponsor fringe meeting at Labour Conference about tackling obesity

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Members of the GULP team hand out toothbrushes and tell Labour Conference: ‘Tax the Can and help people to Give Up Loving Pop’

Today, Monday 26 September, Food Active, a North West based healthy weight campaign, is handing out free toothbrushes to Labour Party Conference delegates and confronting the soft drinks industry’s attempts to block a sugary drinks tax.  This activity is in response to the British Soft Drinks Association’s sponsorship of a fringe meeting about tackling obesity, and their lobbying at the Conference and to MPs to stop the Government’s proposed Soft Drinks Industry Levy.

Robin Ireland, organiser of Food Active’s ‘Give Up Loving Pop’ initiative, said:

“The British Soft Drinks Association’s propaganda machine is not welcome in our city, or anywhere else in the North West. Public health directors in the North West have called for strong measures that would help tackle the high rates of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and dental decay. Families and community groups tell us they want more help to ‘give up loving pop’, and that’s what a sugary drinks tax would do.”

Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator of Children’s Food Campaign, said:

“We are in Liverpool today to support local health campaigners, who are trying to counteract the big money and slick spin of corporate lobbyists. Coca Cola and other major brands seem intent on putting their short-term profits above children’s health and the NHS’s finances. These companies are trying to defeat sensible, effective measures which would make healthier choices cheaper and the norm. Soft drinks still are the number one source of sugar in children’s diets. That’s why it’s time to Tax the Can.”

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Restaurant sector sugar tax funds free drinking fountains across the UK

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Over £50,000 money raised from a voluntary tax on sugary drinks in restaurants across the UK will be used to open water fountains in parks, schools, youth groups and even a BMX club in some of the most deprived areas of the country.

The funds are being allocated by the Children’s Health Fund, launched in 2015 by food and farming charity Sustain and funded by a voluntary 10p levy on drinks with added sugar in over 130 of the UK’s leading restaurants, cafes and coffee shops.

The Fund today announced that it has made awards to 26 organisations around the UK that will help to improve children’s access to tap water. Campaigners hope that access to free drinking water will encourage young people to drink alternatives to unhealthy sugary drinks. Soft drinks are the largest single source of sugar in children’s diets, accounting for almost a third of their sugar intake.

The news comes after the Government announced a national sugary drinks tax which will be in place in 2018.

John Vincent, Founder of LEON one of the first participating restaurant chains, said:

“I believe that our addiction to sugar is making us sick and costing the NHS billions every year. Our children are consuming far too much sugar and even one can of a fizzy drink takes them over their recommended daily intake. We introduced the sugar levy in LEON to show we could use soft drinks to raise money and help fix the problem they’re causing.

“I’m really pleased that in nine months we’ve managed to raise enough to give thousands of children access to free, healthy water and also persuaded lots of LEON customers to choose healthier alternatives. Just think what the Government can achieve when it introduces a national tax and invests that back in our children’s health.”

Gloria Davies-Coates, Children’s Health Fund manager, said:

“We are delighted to be able to provide access to drinking water for our children and young people across the UK. The Children’s’ Health Fund is still new so to be able to have this level of impact from our first funding round is wonderful. We hope other restaurants will come on board so we can help improve more children’s diets across the UK.”

Jamie Oliver, children’s food campaigner and celebrity chef said:

“When I launched the Children’s Health Fund and the levy on sugary sweetened drinks last year, my plan was always to use the money to help children all over the UK to have access to fresh food and water. I’m delighted that we’ve now raised enough money to give grants to 26 projects all over the country, all helping kids get access to clean drinking water. I’m also very proud to say that the next lot of funding is going to tackle holiday hunger. This truly is a tax for good.”

The next round of funding, focusing on improving food provision within kids’ holiday clubs, will open for applications in July 2016.

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Government to introduce Sugar Tax

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George Osborne has taken the first tentative steps in addressing the UK’s childhood obesity crisis by announcing plans for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

The levy, which will start in April 2018, is aimed at high-sugar drinks which are popular among children and young people. The tax will consist of two bands – one for total sugar content above 5g per 100ml and a second, higher band for the most sugary drinks with more than 8g per 100ml.

Fizzy drinks such as Red Bull, Lucozade Energy and Coca-Cola will fall under the higher rate of tax whereas the lower rate would catch drinks such as Dr. Pepper, Fanta and Sprite. Some tonic waters may also be affected. Pure fruit juices and milk-based drinks will be excluded and the smallest producers will have an exemption from the scheme.

Robin Ireland, Director of the Give Up Loving Pop campaign, said:

“We are delighted that the Government has decided to introduce a Sugar Tax. Food Active, together with regional Directors of Public Health, have been calling for a Sugar Tax since the north-west based campaign was first set up in 2013.

“Our Give Up Loving Pop (GULP) campaign was commissioned specifically to raise awareness of the health harms associated with over-consumption of sugary drinks.

“Research has shown that soft drinks are the largest single source of sugar in our children’s diets, accounting for some 40% of all sugar consumed by young people. Whilst the most obvious consequence of over-consumption of sugary drinks is tooth decay, excess sugar can also lead to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

“The Sugar Tax is a victory for Food Active’s ‘Give Up Loving Pop’ campaign and all our regional and national colleagues who have been advocating for such a measure. Let this be the first step in a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy to address the childhood obesity crisis.”

The tax is expected to raise £520 million a year and will be used to boost school sport, fund breakfast clubs at 1,600 schools in England and allow many secondary schools to extend their day – a possible sticking point for many in public health who feel the revenue generated would be better served elsewhere.

Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular health at Queen Mary University of London, argues that the creation of a powerful new nutritional watchdog to replace the now defunct Food Standards Agency is of paramount importance, rather than increasing sport in schools.

Whilst the benefits of being physically active are well known, MacGregor, chief executive of Action on Sugar, argued:

“The most effective way to tackle obesity is to reformulate products so that we get down [levels of] sugar, the way we’ve done with salt reduction.”

Manufacturers will have to choose whether to absorb the cost of the new levy or to pass it on to consumers. Either way, it is likely that soft drinks companies will continue to, and even accelerate reformulation of their products as there is now a greater fiscal incentive to do so.

However, some corners of public health have highlighted that the Chancellor has opened himself up to lobbying in the two intervening years. Hopefully the threat of Jamie Oliver getting more ‘ninja’ is enough of a deterrent.

I’ll have a large caramel latte please. Oh really, 6 teaspoons of sugar?! On second thoughts...

Staggering amount of sugar found in your morning coffee

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Hot flavoured drinks should be an “occasional treat” and are not for everyday consumption according to new research from campaign group Action on Sugar.

With an estimated 1.7 billion cups of coffee sold each year in the UK from over 18,000 outlets and one in five of the population visiting a coffee shop daily, Action on Sugar today warns of the dangerously high sugar content of certain hot beverages found in many high street coffee shop chains. Read More

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Reducing sugar content in sugar-sweetened drinks by 40% over 5 years could prevent 300,000 cases of type 2 diabetes in the next two decades

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A new study published today in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology shows that reducing free sugars content in sugars content in sugar sweetened drinks (including fruit juices) in the UK by over 40% over five years, without replacing them with any non-nutritive sweeteners, could prevent around 300,000 cases of type 2 diabetes over two decades- with major cost savings to the NHS.

Based on the UK’s salt reduction programme that has seen salt content in many food products successfully reduced by 40% over five years, the authors decided to do a study on the effects of a similar reduction in added free sugars. Using national representative data from the 2008-2012 National Diet and Nutrition Survey rolling programme and British Soft Drinks Association annual reports, the authors calculated sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption level (both with and without fruit juices) and its contribution to free sugars and energy intakes in the UK population.

The calculations showed that a 40% reduction in free sugars added to SSBs over five years would lead to an average reduction in energy intake of 38 kcal per day by the end of the fifth year. This would lead to an average reduction in body weight of 1.20kg in adults, resulting in a reduction in overweight and obese adults by approximately half a million and 1 million respectively. This would in turn prevent between 274,000-309,000 obesity-related type 2 diabetes cases over the next two decades.

If fruit juices were excluded from SSBs, the corresponding reduction in energy intake and body weight would be 31 kcal/day and 0.96kg respectively. This would result in 300,000 fewer cases of overweight people and 800,000 fewer cases of obese individuals, which would in turn prevent around 221,000-250,000 diabetes cases over two decades. The predicted impact was greater in adolescents, young adults and individuals from low income families who consume more SSBs.

Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of Action on Sugar, says:

“Our study shows this strategy could have a profound impact on reducing energy intake from SSBs and could therefore lower the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the long term.”

“The Prime Minister can no longer ignore the fact that the current nutrition policies are not working. Action on Sugar has developed a coherent evidence-based strategy which starts with setting of incremental sugar reduction targets for soft drinks and a further 6 actions to follow. These actions require a government-funded but independent nutrition agency, which can set mandatory targets with robust enforcement. In support of this the British Retail Consortium is now calling for regulated sugar, fat and salt reduction targets.”

“The UK food and drink industry could lead the world in preventing obesity and type 2 diabetes.”

Registered Nutritionist Kawther Hashem, Researcher of Action on Sugar, says:

“We have become a nation hooked on the sweet stuff, expecting all our food and drink to taste incredibly sweet, and it is making us overweight and obese. Merely having the option of ‘diet’ or ‘no sugar’ products does not work. Food and drink companies must slowly and gradually reduce the sugar and the sweetness, as they have already done for salt, so we can all get used to far less sugar in our diet.”

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Public Health England urges parents to cut sugary drinks from children’s diets

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Public Health England (PHE) follow recommendations of independent carbohydrates and health report, including halving sugar consumption.

PHE have called on parents and families to cut sugary drinks from their children’s daily diet, after independent nutrition experts say the country consumes too much sugar, leading to major health consequences.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) final report on carbohydrates and health, published in July 2015, recommended a significant cut to the amount of sugars people consume as part of their daily calorie intake- halved from 10% to 5%. The report also recommends that consumption of sugar sweetened drinks is minimised and fibre increased.

Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at PHE, said:

“Sugary drinks have no place in a child’s daily diet, but account for almost a third of their daily sugar intake. Too much sugar leads to excess calorie intake, weight gain and obesity, itself leading to heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes in adults.”

A Quick Swig

A quick swig: a nasty surprise for your health this Christmas

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As sugary drinks manufacturers gear-up to promote their products this Christmas, and as we reach the end of the UK’s first ever Sugar Awareness Week, health activists from the Give Up Loving Pop campaign are hitting back at industry with their new film ‘A Quick Swig‘ which highlights the health harms associated with the consumption of sugary drinks.

With many towns and cities receiving a visit from the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck this December ‘A Quick Swig‘ aims to get the public to think again before they are tempted to indulge in ‘liquid sugar’. Designed to mimic the marketing efforts of the big sugary drinks manufacturers, ‘A Quick Swig’ shows how overconsumption of sugary drinks can lead to nasty surprises for your health including obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.

Robin Ireland, Director of the Give Up Loving Pop campaign, comments:

“Coca-Cola and others really go out of their way during the festive season to push their products on the public. But our new animation A Quick Swig hopes to counter this marketing and to show the sugary drinks companies for what they are- A Bad Santa: promoting products that can lead to long term health conditions- which are not exactly the sort of presents that you want to receive at Christmas.”

“With one in three children leaving primary school classed as overweight or obese, we’re working hard at Give Up Loving Pop to get the message out to the public that A Quick Swig of a sugary drink is not necessary this Christmas!”

View A Quick Swig below!

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Book Review: Soda Politics

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With Sugar Awareness Week upon us, Give Up Loving Pop Director, Robin Ireland, reviews the latest book from esteemed food campaigner Marion Nestle- ‘Soda Politics- Taking on Big Soda (And Winning).

Soda Politics by Dr. Marion Nestle (Oxford University Press, 2015) is a large book written from a North American perspective but well worth a read as the argument for a sugar tax intensifies with the backing of the Commons’ Health Committee today.

As a British advocate, there are some fascinating historical insights on Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, the giants in the field. But there is also so much which is familiar as the ‘Soda’ industry does its best to counter the possibility of a sugar tax, supports front ‘pro sugar’ groups, funds research to obfuscate public health messages whilst doing its best to discredit campaigns like Give Up Loving Pop (GULP).

Marion Nestle describes the strong evidence between sugary drink consumption and obesity, type 2 diabetes and dental decay. She details the profits made from products which are 90% water and the environmental impact of their production. There is a lot of well-researched information on how the sugary drinks industry works and how it markets its products and it certainly starts early. A former Coca-Cola executive is quoted saying “90 percent of all soft drink marketing is targeted at 12 to 24 year olds”. And in every chapter there are tips for effective advocacy.

As the health lobby’s messages that sugary drinks contain only empty calories with no nutritional benefit start to become resonant with the public and the media, so ‘astroturf’ (artificially green and grassroots) front groups are becoming more common. These groups (and sometimes individuals) try to discredit critics through ridicule and terms such as ‘food police’ and ‘nannies’. Pretty familiar stuff to those of us who use social media. And, for the American Beverage Association’s actions which Marion Nestle describes, you have the Food and Drink Federation and British Soft Drinks Association in the UK who tried to stop Food Active publishing its eye-catching GULP images earlier this year. A shopping centre in the North West of England also refused our GULP roadshow booking because of its commercial relationship with Coca-Cola. The book lists many American equivalents.

I enjoyed the practical sections on advocacy in New York City, California and elsewhere. The description of a tax on ‘sodas’ and junk foods which has been successfully implemented in Mexico is particularly encouraging. British advocates of a sugar tax are rehearsing their arguments as I write. Marion Nestle advocates that such arguments gain more traction is revenues are used to fund public health programmes as in Mexico and as suggested by Jamie Oliver and Sustain’s Children’s Health Fund in the UK.

This is a food advocates’ book which forensically analyses the tactics of the ‘Soda’ industry. As Dr Margaret Chan of the World Health Organisation says, it ‘will open the eyes of the public and parliamentarians to the health hazards of what is essentially liquid candy in a bottle.’