Children and young people in Sheffield are consuming more than two and half times as much sugar as the maximum recommended daily intake, most of which comes from sugary drinks.
One can of Cola alone contains nine cubes of sugar, two more cubes than the recommended daily maximum of seven cubes for a teenager.
Sugar is not necessary in the diet and 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. Working with Food Active, Sheffield City Council are running a campaign to encourage people to Give Up Loving Pop (GULP).
The GULP campaign will work with three schools: Forge Valley, Yewlands Academy, and Parkwood Academy to encourage young people and their families to switch from sugary drinks to water or milk. Students, teachers and parents are challenged to Give Up Loving Pop for four weeks. Schools will hold assemblies, and include in their PSHE lessons.
All schools, students, teachers and parents can sign up for the GULP challenge at www.giveuplovingpop.org.uk/gulp-challenge
Richard Mintoff, PE teacher at Forge Valley School said: “Given the current push on banning sales of energy drinks to children and the imminent introduction of a sugary drinks tax we saw the GULP campaign as a fantastic way to raise awareness within Forge Valley.
“Although some pupils understand the principles of a balanced diet, many are unaware of the sugar content of what they eat and drink. This can have an ever lasting impact on their health and well-being.
“We are hoping that through the current media drive and our PSHE lessons our pupils become educated enough to make informed decisions about what they are drinking on a regular basis and it will have a positive impact on their lifestyle choices.
Councillor Jackie Drayton, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families at Sheffield City Council, said: “ We all know that too much sugar is bad for children and young people and can cause health problems now, and in the future. I remember as a young Mum I didn’t realise just how much sugar there was in various prepared food and drinks. In fact I gave my children flavoured milk not fizzy drinks thinking it was better for them, then a friend showed me the ingredients list on each drink, I was amazed when it showed that there was loads of sugar in both of them! So I switched to giving my children plain milk or water, and ever since always look at what ingredients are in food and drink, to find out what’s hidden in them and I’d encourage everyone to do the same.
“I’m so please to see our schools taking part in this campaign to improve the health of the children and young people in the City and would ask all parents and carers to support them”
Greg Fell, Director of Public Health at Sheffield City Council said: “Children have far too much sugar in their diet, and much of this comes in the form of sugary drinks. Not only is this causing problems for children and young people now in terms of tooth decay and weight gain, but continued over-consumption of sugar can lead to problems in later life. Evidence shows that regardless of weight, consumption of sugary drinks can lead to cardiac and metabolic issues in adulthood.
“We are also aware of the effect that sugary drinks, especially in the form of energy and sports drinks can have on behaviour during school and academic performance. The GULP campaign will educate our young people about the benefits of switching to water or milk and we hope that the messages will be taken home, to impact on family and friends.”