19 May 2017

Public Health

New award set to help Bristol Eat Better

A new award scheme encouraging local food businesses to make their catering healthier and more sustainable is launching next week (23 May) in a bid to help tackle the city’s obesity crisis.
Almost two thirds of adults in Bristol are now overweight and unhealthy diets have been identified by some researchers as the ‘greatest threat’ to the health and wellbeing of the public.*
The new Bristol Eating Better Award will support local takeaways, cafes and in-house caterers to take small and achievable steps to reduce sugar, salt and unhealthy fats in their food and drinks, whilst promoting healthier options. Amongst other things the award also looks at how businesses can reduce waste and support the local economy. 
Businesses can apply online and sign up to different levels ranging from ‘commitment’ through to ‘gold’ and there is a special Sugar Smart award included. The public will be able to identify businesses signed up to the award, and their level of commitment, via window stickers displayed at the venue and online publication of businesses. 
Becky Pollard, Director of Public Health, said; “I’d like to challenge local businesses to take this opportunity to help people eat better. We need to tackle rising obesity levels from many different angles and local food businesses have a key role to play in this. Currently three quarters of people in the UK eat out at least once a week and for some it’s six times or more. The Bristol Eating Better Award sets out simple and achievable things that can be done to make food healthier – from reducing the sugar and fat in sauces to stocking fewer fizzy drinks – and is designed to benefit businesses. Obesity is a major factor in health inequalities so we’re keen to get businesses on board based in areas with higher rates of obesity, although the award is open to everyone.”
The Bristol Eating Better Award builds on the work that has been taking place with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and partners on the Sugar Smart Bristol campaign. The awards have been piloted with a small selection of businesses since January 2017.
One of the businesses which achieved the gold standard during the pilot is Caffé Gusto’s City Hall site.

Stevie Cottrell, Operations Manager, said: “We were keen to implement the Bristol Eating Better Award as soon as we heard about it. As well as helping to raise awareness of healthy eating and nutrition, the award could also benefit our business, letting customers know how much we care about offering genuinely healthy and sustainable options. Making changes to meet the qualifying criteria was straightforward. Simple alterations include offering half portions of cakes, only selling high sugar drinks in 330ml or less, and reducing ingredients high in fat, as well as offering free tap water. We’re also labelling products more clearly so customers can make informed choices and easily identify healthier choices. Feedback so far has been undoubtedly positive, customers have been enthusiastic and many are now actively seeking healthier alternatives.”
Greenway Community Café in Southmead also achieved gold.

Heidi Atwell, Café Manager, said: “We feed hundreds of people every year so we feel we have a responsibility to make sure we have healthy options on offer. Signing up to the Bristol Eating Better Award has given us loads of ideas about how to make positive changes. We already make a lot of the food we sell from fresh ingredients, but since getting involved with the award we’re also looking to source lower sugar options where possible, reduce portion sizes of sugary options and offer healthier alternatives – amongst many other things. When you start looking at it, there are lots of little changes which are easy to make and could amount to making a big difference.”
The awards are being launched at the Great Weight Debate conference in City Hall, which is bringing together a cross section of organisations working to address the weight issue facing Bristol. A new Healthy Weight strategy for the city will be published later in the year.