People in Oxford call for action on sugar

By John Charlton

In response to public demand for action, Oxford’s businesses are being asked to join the campaign for a SUGAR SMART Oxford.

Consuming too much sugar and too many foods and drinks high in sugar can lead to weight gain, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers. It is also linked to tooth decay.

The initiative, which is led by the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and Sustain, is asking businesses, as well as schools and colleges, to promote healthy alternatives and reduce unhealthy food and drink, particularly those high in ‘free’ sugar – added sugar and sugary products such as honey and fruit juice. The recommended daily intake of free sugar is a maximum of 7 teaspoons for adults and a maximum of 5 to 6 teaspoons for children. However, on average adults are currently having twice this amount and children having three times as much.

People in Oxford have just added their voices to The Great Sugar Debate, which took place from November 2017 to January 2018 – online, by postcard and in person.

Of the 665 people who took part, 41% said they thought they had more than the recommended maximum amount of sugar per day, and a further 17% were not sure. A massive 92% thought young people had more than the recommended maximum amount of sugar per day. 66% were very concerned about the amount of sugar in our food and drinks and 30% were a bit concerned. Only 4% of people surveyed were not at all concerned.

In the online survey, 92% were worried about at least one health effect of sugar on themselves, with the most people (77%) concerned about its effect on their weight. Of the people concerned about child health issues, the issue of most concern was sugar’s effect on their children’s teeth (89%).

Councillor Hilary Hibbert-Biles, Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Public Health & Education, said: “This campaign recognises that although many people are aware of the effects of sugar and are trying to take steps to eat a healthier diet, the food environment does not always encourage these healthy choices. “SUGAR SMART Oxford is calling on organisations to make Sugar Smart pledges, to make it easier for people to make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

Free resources for organisations, businesses and schools are available from the national SUGAR SMART site