Oxford is set to become Sugar Smart!

Published: Monday, 13th November 2017

With the aim of becoming more Sugar Smart, Oxford City Council is teaming up with the Jamie Oliver Foundation, Good Food Oxford and local organisations in a commitment to reduce sugar consumption.

In August, Good Food Oxford received £5,000 from Sustainable Food Cities to aid the delivery of a one year project around sugar reduction.

Led by Good Food Oxford in partnership with Public Health at Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), Community Dental Services and Oxford City Council, Oxford will be joining other Sugar Smart cities including Cambridge, Bath, Bristol, Glasgow and Brighton.

The initiative is part of the national Sugar Smart UK campaign led by Jamie Oliver and charity Sustain to reduce sugar consumption; the campaign aims to get people thinking about how much sugar they are consuming. The scheme also aims to educate individuals, communities and businesses on the healthier choices that are available to them and the responsibility we all have to highlight these choices.

Oxford City Council will be signing a Local Authority Declaration to show their commitment to sugar reduction in the city. The funding received from Sustainable Food Cities will be match-funded by key partners through in-kind officer time.

Under the Local Authority Declaration, Oxford City Council will be exploring measures around limiting the advertising of sugary drinks on council-managed noticeboards and within our Leisure Centres, supporting the availability of free tap water at our Leisure Centres and other sites, and encouraging local businesses to make their own commitment by signing up to become a Sugar Smart Business.

The scheme will be launching with The Great Sugar Debate on Saturday 11 November at the Oxford United FC home match against Northampton FC at Kassam Stadium. The launch will include information stands from local ‘sugar free’ partners such as Public Health, Community Dental Service, Fusion Lifestyle and Park Club Oxford, plus some half-time entertainment on the pitch if the weather permits.

There will also be plenty of opportunities to join the Great Sugar Debate by filling in one of the postcard surveys.

The public consultation aims to gain an insight into people’s views and understanding surrounding sugar consumption in Oxford. It can be completed by filling in postcards at the launch event, as well as online on the Sugar Smart Oxford website.

The Sugar Smart Oxford campaign will also encourage local businesses and workplaces to sign up to one or more of the SUGAR SMART business commitments:

  • Promote free tap water
  • Adopt a traffic light sticker system on canteen/café drinks menus
  • Make 80% of drinks offered sugar free
  • Make healthier options more visible
  • Introduce a 10p sugar tax on sales of sugary drinks in canteens/cafés, to go to a children’s health fund

In the New Year, Sugar Smart Oxford will host university debates and deliver informative school assemblies across the city.

Whilst overall, adults in Oxford are healthier than the England average, for children in Year 6 (at the end of Primary School), 20% are classified as obese. These statistics are reflected on a national scale.

Councillor Marie Tidball, Board Member for Young People, Schools and Public Health said: “The high levels of sugar content in food and drinks is becoming an issue that we cannot ignore. This project will allow us to work towards reducing sugar consumption in Oxford. We are proud to be working with Good Food Oxford, as well as other local organisations towards this goal.”

Councillor Hilary Hibbert-Biles, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Education said: “Children across Britain are eating nearly three times more sugar than they should, whereas the average adult consumes the equivalent of a whopping 140 teaspoons of sugar per week.

"We want to ensure all children have a healthy start in life and stay healthy into adulthood. That means preventing chronic disease through tackling obesity as well as improving oral hygiene and dental health in Oxfordshire.”

Dr Joe McManners, GP and Chair of the Health Inequalities Commission Implementation Group said: “I am pleased to support the Sugar Smart Oxford campaign.  We need an all-round approach to tackling obesity in adults and children and especially with 3.8% of people aged 17and over being registered by their GP as suffering from diabetes.

“Sugar also has a huge impact on dental health and in Oxford, 1 in 3 children are affected by bad teeth. It’s surprising how much extra sugar is in drinks and food which people are unaware of. If we can help our patients and public to have more knowledge and awareness of the sugar that they and their families consume, this is a positive thing.’

Jamie Oliver said: “It’s brilliant that Oxford have joined us and are launching their own Sugar Smart campaign. They’ll be joining us in raising awareness about the long-term damage too much sugar can have on our health, and empowering us all to reduce it in our diets.

"We're facing a growing obesity crisis where one in four children are leaving school either overweight or obese, seriously increasing their chances of developing diet-related diseases, like type-2 diabetes, earlier in adult life. Eating nutritious food and getting regular exercise will help us all lead healthier and happier lives.”

For more information on SUGAR SMART Oxford please visit the Sugar Smart Oxford website.