Council supports call for action on sugar

St Helens Council’s Public Health team has welcomed a report from Public
Health England urging action to cut sugar intake among both young people
and adults.

Sugar reduction: The evidence for action, concludes that a range of
factors, including marketing, promotions, advertising and the amount of
sugar in manufactured food, is contributing to an increase in sugar
consumption.

Sugar is one of the main causes of children and adults being overweight and of tooth decay. Two in three adults in St Helens are overweight and one in three children in St Helens are overweight by the time they are 11 years old.  One in three children are affected by tooth decay by the time they are five years old. Sugar is often hidden in manufactured food and drinks and people are often taking more than they realise. For example, a can of fizzy drink can have up to seven cubes of sugar.

The evidence review shows that action to reduce sugar consumption levels could include,

·    tackling the volume and number of price promotions in retail and
restaurants.
·    restricting the marketing and advertising of high sugar products to
children.
·    reducing the sugar content in and portion size of everyday food and
drink products.
·    introducing a tax on high sugar products.

The review also suggests considering a price increase – through a tax or a
levy – as a means of reducing sugar intake.

The findings mirror St Helens Council’s own research and ongoing efforts to cut the amount of sugar consumed by young people.

The local ‘Swap the Pop’ campaign encouraged residents to pledge that
they’d exchange high sugar fizzy drinks for healthier alternatives such as
water, milk and sugar-free drinks.

It followed some direct action at Haydock High School in St Helens, where
young people were shocked to discover that some of their drinks had as much as 15 teaspoons of sugar and high levels of caffeine.

After dropping the sugary drinks, Haydock teachers reported an all-round
improvement in behaviour – with students more focused in lessons and a big decrease in the amount of litter left lying around the school.

St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing
Councillor Jeanie Bell said: “We know from our own experience here in St
Helens that taking sugar out of the equation brings big benefits.”

Liz Gaulton, Director of Public Health added: “The Public Health England
report presents the best evidence from across the world for what works in
reducing the amount of high sugar food and drink that we have. As many of the sugar is hidden it can be difficult to avoid sugar and the
recommendations in this report will help to make healthy choices the easy
choices.”