Mayor praises Sugar Smart for ‘uniting organisations and raising awareness'

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees has praised the city’s Sugar Smart campaign for ‘uniting organisations and raising awareness’, as the healthy living drive celebrates its first year of action.

Bristol Sport and Bristol Sport Foundation got behind the campaign – which saw Bristol City Council team up with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and other local organisations, to raise awareness of the amount of sugar in our food - last January with high-profile launches at Bristol City and Bristol Rugby fixtures at Ashton Gate, and a Bristol Flyers game at SGS College.

The new programme, led by the council’s public health team, was launched following input from Bristol’s Youth Council, which last year debated the merits of a city-wide health campaign to help tackle the city’s poor oral health and obesity crisis. 

But the Mayor, who says Bristol should be ‘proud’ of its achievements so far, admits the campaign is a long-term journey”

“During our year as European City of Sport the Sugar Smart campaign has helped to unite many different organisations and raise awareness about what’s in our food,” he said.

“Eating healthily and being active go hand in hand and we should be proud of what we’ve achieved together so far.

“However, this journey is a long one and there are no quick fixes so we must continue our partnerships to make a difference that last.”

The Mayor’s comments come after a survey, conducted as part of the Sugar Smart Bristol campaign, provided a snapshot of public opinion and found that around two thirds (66%) of respondents are worried about the sugar content in their food.

The results are released on the same day that new figures about the National Childhood Measurement Programme show that a third (33%) of year six age pupils are overweight or obese.

Over 1,200 local people from across the city took part in the survey, which asked for thoughts on sugar and diet. The majority of people who responded were aged 30-59 and three quarters were female.

Results showed that the majority (85%) were concerned about the effects of sugar on their weight and over two thirds (71%) were concerned about issues such as tooth decay and type 2 diabetes. Half of people also reported that they were worried about the effect that eating too much sugar had on their mood. 

Councillor Asher Craig, Cabinet Member for Communities, including public health, said: “It is clear that the amount of sugar in our food is something that concerns local people so we must make sure people have the information they need to make informed choices. Obesity and dental problems are two major contributing factors to health inequalities in our city, and the things that stop some people from eating healthily are complex.”

The survey found that there were some key barriers that prevented people from checking the level of sugar in their food. Over a third (35%) said it was down to a lack of time, over a quarter (27%) found labels too confusing, whilst a fifth (21%) said they weren’t sure of the recommended levels.

Two thirds wanted to cut down in order to lose weight and over half (57%) wanted to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes.  

Almost all of the respondents (92%) felt that the Sugar Smart Bristol team should help people to cut down. There was appetite for making healthy options more affordable, more easily available and promoted in stores.

Bristol Flyers promote Sugar Smart t one of their home fixtures during 2016/17 season (JMP UK).

Sally Hogg, public health consultant on healthy lifestyles, said: “The reality is that obesity levels in the city are not falling in the way we want them to. Two thirds of adults in the city are above a healthy weight and our children are the first generation predicted to live shorter lives than their parents, due to diet and inactivity.

“We need to make sure this doesn’t come true. We launched the Sugar Smart Bristol campaign alongside the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and partners across the city to help tackle this and we won’t rest until things start to improve. We are currently developing a wider strategy to promote healthy weight across the whole of the city.”

new infographic shows how far the Sugar Smart work has spread since the campaign was launched in January and highlights the wide range of partners involved. 

The survey results will be used to shape the next phase of activity, with increased focus on engaging men in the campaign.

For more information on Sugar Smart Bristol visit; www.sugarsmartbristol.co.uk 

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