The latest statistics from Public Health England on the nation’s diet shows that sugar now makes up 13.5% of youngsters aged four to 10 and 14.1% of teenagers’ daily calorie intake respectively. The official recommendation is to limit sugar to no more than 5%.
In Sandwell and West Birmingham two in five children at year 6 in the Sandwell and West Birmingham area are overweight or obese. This is worse than both West Midlands and England both with an average of one in three.
One scientific study by the imperial College of London found that drinking one extra sugar-sweetened soft drink a day can increase a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 22%. There are already 51,337 people aged 16 or over in Sandwell and West Birmingham, (over 11% of the population), diagnosed with diabetes.
Tom Watson MP, who is a keen supporter of the campaign, managed to reverse his own type 2 diabetes with a rigorous, sugar-free diet and exercise regime.
Families can sign up by going to https://bit.ly/2DCKa9N and can share their experiences on Twitter using #gofizzfree.
Dr Nick Harding, Chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, said:
“Going ‘Fizz Free’ this February is a fantastic way to cut down on sugar and make positive lifestyle changes.
“A 330ml can of the best-selling colas contain about 36g of sugar, the equivalent of nine teaspoons. So, drinking just one 330ml can of fizzy drink a day could add up to over a stone in weight gain per year and everyone could save £438 a year if they stopped drinking one bottle of soft drink, per day for a year.
“Children who drink a lot of sugary drinks are more likely to become overweight. The added sugar in these drinks also means they can damage teeth. If families go ‘Fizz Free’ they can start to take control over their own weight loss and dental hygiene.”
Fizz Free February is an initiative launched by Southwark Council in 2018 in response to child and adult obesity rates in the borough. This year it is being rolled out across the country.