From Mary Atkinson, Sugar Smart Coordinator, HFP Secretary
Last month, Hackney Food Partnership (HFP) was delighted to receive a 12 month grant from Sustainable Food Cities to run a joint Sugar Smart Hackney campaign with Hackney Council Public Health who have match funded the grant and donated in-kind support.
So why the focus on reducing sugar? With sugary foods and drinks so ubiquitous, cheap, and heavily promoted by the food industry through advertising, sponsorship and price deals, we consume much too much sugar than is good for us. Some people, particularly young adults and children consume really excessive amounts, many times greater than the recommended intake of 7 teaspoons of added “free sugars” for adults and 5-6 teaspoons for children each day.
Public Health England now recognises this overconsumption of sugar as a major cause of the unacceptably high levels of obesity, type II diabetes and tooth decay and that urgent action is needed to reduce it. Being a deprived borough Hackney has a higher than average prevalence of such non-communicable diseases. Childhood obesity is of particular concern, with 41% of children leaving primary school overweight or obese, compared to the national average of one third, and obesity more than doubling from 11.7% at reception to 25.7% in Year 6. Tooth extraction is also the biggest cause of hospital admissions of 5-9 year olds in the UK and the problem starts early, with 15% of under 3 year olds already experiencing tooth decay.
What will the campaign involve?
With these most at risk groups in mind, early years, schools and low income groups will be the primary targets of the Sugar Smart Hackney campaign. A wider group will be reached by working with workplaces, sports and leisure centres, dentists, and independent cafes and restaurants.
The campaign aims to spread the word on the health risks of excessive sugar consumption, as well as increase understanding of where and how much added “free sugars” can be found in what we eat and drink and what can be done to reduce it. We’ll also be encouraging our target stakeholders and the public to become “Sugar Smart” by engaging in activities to reduce the ready availability of sugary foods and drinks and by making personal pledges to reduce sugar consumption. The campaign kicks off with a resident’s survey in September, followed by a public launch in November.
Achieving healthy and sustainable food in Hackney – how to get involved
Another exciting opportunity created by this grant is our new working partnership with Hackney Council that we hope will continue beyond the 12 months of Sugar Smart and allow us to collectively work towards achieving more healthy and sustainable food system in Hackney.
We are therefore organising an open HFP meeting in September not only to discuss the Sugar Smart campaign but also to explore future opportunities and priorities to build on this success to achieve healthy sustainable food in Hackney. Please come along.
If you would like to join the HFP meeting in September please contact me at Mary@hackneyfood.org.uk for more information. To find out more about Hackney Food Partnership, please visit our webpage and consider signing up to our mailing list. And finally, if you happen to have access to a well located venue for the meeting, please let me know!
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