Bournemouth goes Sugar Smart, fighting the promotion of sugary drinks

Bournemouth and Poole’s Sugar Smart campaign is being launched to coincide with the Coca Cola truck’s visit to Bournemouth. “What better way to start our campaign to encourage people to go Sugar Smart than when the Coca-Cola truck is stopping off in our town. We are concerned that their visit will contribute to the consumption of sugary drinks by children, all under the guise of festive fun.  Public health experts are urging parents to reduce the quantity and frequency of foods and drinks that contain sugar and we want to help get that message out to everyone in our communities” said Sarah Watson, Manager of the Sustainable Food City Partnership.

The Partnership and their band of tooth fairies will be campaigning alongside the Coca Cola truck on Thursday 23rd from 15:30, giving out water bottles, promoting the Dorset refill scheme and providing free toothbrushes for all those drinking sugary drinks.

Directors of Public Health across the region have written a letter to express their concerns about Coca-Cola’s promotional ‘Happy Holidays’ annual truck roadshow. This follows recent research that junk food companies spend 27 times more on advertising than the Government has available for promoting healthy eating.

In the area, one in five children are already overweight or obese by the time they start primary school and that increases to one in three by the time they leave at year 6. The rate of obesity in children literally doubles during a child’s time at primary school and the figures are much higher again for the poorest children.

There is also serious concern about the impact that high sugary drinks can have on tooth decay. The latest national dental health survey of 5 year olds found a quarter had experienced tooth decay with an average of 3 or 4 teeth affected. It found tooth extraction was the most common reason for hospital admission for children aged 5 to 9 years old.

Dr Virginia Pearson, Chair of the South West Directors of Public Health Group said:
“We know that the amount of sugar that children consume on a daily basis is a major contributing factor to gaining weight and tooth decay. We are concerned that under the guise of festive fun children are being encouraged to consume sugary drinks.

“Being overweight and obese has significant impacts, we know it can lead to poor psychological and emotional health, poor sleep, and many children experience bullying linked to their weight.

“Directors of Public Health across the South West and their teams are working incredibly hard to support people to reduce the amount of   sugary drinks and high sugar foods they consume and make the food environment around us healthier.

Paul Cartwright, Chairman of Sustainable Food City Partnership, Bournemouth and Poole said:

“We know that advertising and marketing is influential when it comes to choosing unhealthy foods, which is why we don’t want to see the promotion of high sugar drinks in Bournemouth and Poole this Christmas.

“We are encouraging people to swap high sugar drinks for water, look out for Dorset Refill businesses to fill up their water bottles and look for ways to reduce the amount of sugar they and their families consume.

“We are delighted to have our very own Sugar Smart campaign being delivered across Bournemouth and Poole. We know that people absolutely support this approach and we are looking for help from businesses, caterers, schools, hospitals and restaurants to reduce the amount of sugar in the food and drink available. That can be through reformulating food and meals, reducing portion size and encouraging good food choices.”