Sheffield City Council launches public health initiative to reduce tooth decay and obesity
Sheffield City Council is launching a major public health initiative to help local families, schools and healthcare professionals tackle sugar.
The initiative, ‘Sheffield is Sweet Enough’, aims to reduce obesity and tooth decay in children and adults over the next five years.
Together with its partners – the NHS, healthcare professionals, Sheffield’s universities, Learn Sheffield, Weight Management Services, colleges, Trading Standards, and the voluntary sector – Sheffield City Council will be sharing helpful facts, sugar swaps, tips and advice for all ages.
Almost 1 in 4 children are overweight or obese when they start school in Sheffield. There are also more school children in Sheffield being admitted to hospital for painful tooth extractions than ever before.
The campaign aims to provide information to local people on the effects of sugar and to give them the tools they need to make educated choices that support their family’s health. It will do this by increasing understanding of how much sugar is too much and the impact this can have on our health.
There will be a focus initially on reaching pregnant women and parents with young children and targeting areas in the city with high rates of obesity and tooth decay as early education is key to establishing healthy eating habits.
Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks & Leisure, said: “Sheffield has high levels of obesity and tooth decay and we see a large variation across the city. Being overweight and having a poor diet impacts on children’s physical and emotional wellbeing and overall life chances. We want better for our children. We want to create lasting change by helping people understand how much sugar is too much and empowering them to make healthy choices. We believe that Sheffield is sweet enough and with a few small changes, we can all reduce our sugar intake, so that eventually these healthy habits become part of daily life.”
How much is too much?
Research carried out in Sheffield shows that there is a lack of understanding about recommended daily sugar limits and how much sugar different foods contain.
To help make this simpler, a website Sheffield is Sweet Enough has been launched to outline the recommended daily limits and what this means for families.
It contains information about the benefits of reducing the amount of sugar we eat, how much sugar there is in everyday foods and suggests ways to make simple swaps and changes.
Lesson plans for schools and education resources for nurseries and community groups, such as scouts and guides, will be available to download to help children of all ages understand more about sugar and its impact.
Greg Fell, Director of Public Health, said: “We all want our children to grow up happy and healthy, but from childhood to teenage years too much sugar can put them at risk of developing tooth decay and certain health conditions, including obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. We are sharing the facts on sugar, so people understand them and can make simple swaps to help their families eat or drink less sugar.
“A complex mix of causes lead to people being overweight or obese in Sheffield and we are working hard to tackle these issues. Reducing sugar intake won’t solve this problem alone, but it will make a huge difference to many people’s health and once they start seeing the changes, they are more likely to continue making those healthier choices in life.
“As well limiting the amount of sugar we eat and drink, we must address the wider issues about the availability of high sugar products and the way they are advertised to children, but we’d need to see real changes in legislation to make this happen.”
Speaking about the launch of the campaign, Claire Ward, from Darnall Community Nursery, added: “Sheffield’s Sweet Enough reinforces everything we teach our children in nursery about sugar and healthy eating, so we’re delighted to be part of this great campaign. We look forward to sharing the resources and information with parents and the children who attend our nursery. It is all about education and working together.”
Ultimately, the aim is to create a social movement in which everyone can play a part – schools, parents, healthcare professionals, councillors, voluntary organisations, community leaders, businesses and workplaces – to tackle sugar in our environment at a local level. The campaign will invite local people and organisations to pledge what they will do to reduce the availability and accessibility of high sugar drinks and foods in the places we live, work and play. This will contribute in our efforts in making a big difference to health outcomes in Sheffield for now and for future generations.