By taking part in Fizz Free February and encouraging schools and local people to do the same, the aim is to draw attention to how much sugar is in our diet and simple ways to cut down.
The initiative is part of a wider campaign led by politician Tom Watson to tackle the obesity crisis in Britain. In Bristol 56% of adults and 34% of children in year six are overweight or obese and 23% of children aged five have at least one decayed, missing or filled tooth. Sugary soft drinks, mainly fizzy drinks, make up an average of 22% of added sugar intake for 11-18 year olds, the single largest source of sugar in their diet.*
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Too much sugar in our diets leads to dental problems and rising obesity levels, which are two significant factors linked to health inequalities in Bristol. Fizzy drinks are only one part of the picture, but giving them up for February is a good start to reducing sugar, and it may help us to cut down during other months too. I’d encourage everyone in Bristol to get involved and see if they feel any better as a result.”
Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, said: “Drinks companies are as good as poisoning our kids with the huge amounts of sugar they put in their products. With scores of children suffering from tooth decay, obesity and even diabetes we must do something to alert people to the danger of consuming too much sugar. Millions of people are becoming health conscious and taking part in dry January, I hope Fizz Free February will get the nation sugar-conscious too.”
Bristol was one of the first places to become a Sugar Smart City in 2017 and has been working with a wide range of organisations and in schools across the city to highlight hidden sugar in our food and drink. Since then Bristol City Council has been building on this work and now runs the Bristol Eating Better Awards which are designed to help local restaurants and takeaways offer customers healthier choices.
So far over 60 businesses have achieved the Sugar Smart part of these awards by promoting water over sugary drinks, stocking more low sugar and unsweetened options. Businesses in Southmead have been leading the way with this – Southmead’s Cod Almighty has gone as far as to install a water fountain outside so customers can refill water bottles rather than buying sugary drinks and Southmead Hospital has reduced the amount of sugary drinks sold whilst promoting water as the cheapest option.
Gary Wilkins, Head of Catering at North Bristol NHS Trust, said: “We have been supporting the council’s Sugar Smart campaign since it was launched. Last year we received a Bristol Eating Better gold award for our patient meals and staff restaurant for our sugar free products and use of local suppliers. The changes we made have been embraced by staff and patients and we regularly receive positive feedback.”
Five reasons to go Fizz Free this February:
- Save money – try saving the money you would usually spend on fizzy drinks and see how much you have saved by the end of the month.
- Give your teeth a break: fizzy drinks often contain a lot of sugar and drinking too many is bad for the enamel on our teeth.
- Reduce your overall sugar intake: with nine cubes of sugar in an average can of cola, cutting down on fizzy drinks will quickly reduce your sugar intake.
- Help the planet: buying fewer fizzy drinks means fewer cans or plastic bottles for the recycling.
- Realise you don’t need the fizz – the longer you go without it, the easier it gets.