The Daily Mile and INEOS’ GO Run For Fun campaign are making huge in-roads to tackle fitness and obesity among children. But that’s only half the battle. Unhealthy, sugar-laden diets are being blamed for rotting teeth and long-term health problems such as type 2 diabetes. So how do we encourage children to give up sugary foods?
WE can see more and more initiatives being taken to encourage children to also eat more healthily. Schools are gradually taking their responsibility and the big retailers launch some initiatives as well (extra bonus points on the loyalty scheme when you buy vegetables & fruits). There again, the gamification aspect motivates children and parents to make the right choices. On our side, we make sure to partner up with ‘healthy alternatives’ for mass sports events where we have eg kids runs. They are good signs, but all in all it’s much more difficult to intervene in this area of healthy living. It needs a mind-shift with the parents first, and that is still very problematic today, as obesity numbers have never been higher.
Jeroen Plasman, The Energy Lab
WHILST the evidence about obesity and sugar is exceedingly complex, the facts about the impact of sugar on teeth are not. The science is irrefutable: sugar feeds bacteria, which produce acid that attacks teeth. And tooth decay is currently the leading cause of hospital admissions among young children in Britain. We’ve been leading urgent calls for action to lower the nation’s sugar intake, highlighting measures ranging from lowering the recommended daily allowance, through to action on marketing, labelling and sales taxes. Starting the conversation can go a long way to helping highlight the amounts of sugars in popular foods, including those marketed as ‘healthy’, and encouraging better oral health for everyone.
Graham Stokes, Chairman, British Dental Association Health and Science Committee
WHEN Theresa May first became prime minister, she pledged that she would look after the sick and poor, and yet within three weeks her previous adviser Nick Timothy had slashed David Cameron’s evidence-based obesity plan from 37 to 13 pages, cutting out many vital policies. I was therefore astonished to hear that following the PM’s stripped-down Queen’s speech, not a single mention was given to strengthening the government’s plan to curb childhood obesity – the biggest public health crisis that we face. Public health is hugely underfunded, considering its cost-effectiveness. It’s amazing that Theresa May can find a billion pounds to form a government but can’t find a million pounds to prevent millions of UK citizens from becoming obese or developing type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.
Graham MacGregor, Professor of cardiovascular medicine, Queen Mary University of London
Nearly a quarter of the added sugar in our diet comes from soft drinks and children aged 11-18 get 40% of their added sugars from soft drinks. We have been campaigning for a sugar tax on soft drinks for many years, as we believe there are clear oral health benefits of such a tax. We welcomed the Government’s announcement of a levy on sugary soft drinks from 2018, but are calling for measures to go further to cover a wider range of sugary food and drinks, and for proceeds of the sugar levy to go towards funding children’s oral health initiatives.
British Dental Association
EVIDENCE shows that slowly changing the balance of ingredients in everyday products, or making changes to product size, is a successful way of improving diets. This is because the changes are universal and do not rely on individual behaviour change. A broad, structured sugar reduction programme is being led by us to remove sugar from the products children eat most. All sectors of the food and drinks industry will be challenged to reduce overall sugar, across a range of products that contribute to children’s sugar intakes, by at least 20% by 2020.
Public Health England
TRYING to cut down on sugar often seems like an impossible task as sugar appears to be hidden in a huge variety of products. However, there are still lots of little things that can be done to reduce our daily intake of sugar. It is important to try and make small adjustments to our diet and lifestyle in order to reduce the amount of sugar that we consume each day. It is interesting to see that in fact it does not take a long time for our taste buds to readjust to foods with less sugar, and that once they have, the foods that we used to eat appear far too sweet.
Action on Sugar
WE have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay. Making policy changes to support this will be key if countries are to live up to their commitments to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases.
Dr Francesco Branca, Director of World Health Organization’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development