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Fizz Free February off to a great start in Edinburgh

We had a chat with Edinburgh Community Food to find out what they’re up to for Fizz Free Feb. Their long-standing work on oral health, part of wider ambitions for healthy and affordable diets across the city, puts them in a great position to help families #GoFizzFree.

Someone signing the Fizz Free Feb pledge. Credit: Edinburgh Community Food

Someone signing the Fizz Free Feb pledge. Credit: Edinburgh Community Food

Edinburgh Community Food is a charity and social enterprise set up to tackle health inequalities, connect people with delicious, fresh, healthy food, and to ensure that everyone across Edinburgh has access to a healthy and affordable diet.

For three years, one of Edinburgh Community Food’s Registered Associate Nutritionists has been running their ‘Family Smiles’ oral health project. Through regular cooking and nutrition groups, the project builds confidence in cooking from scratch, and helps families to understand the benefits of a healthy, balanced diet, and how food and drink consumption impacts on health and oral health. They reach out particularly to families with children under five and aim to connect with those most in need.

The last couple of years have posed some challenges, but Edinburgh Community Food were able to continue supporting families through the pandemic by delivering ingredients and health promotion information directly to families’ homes, with cookery classes held online. The package of support includes education, equipment, finding solutions to fussy eating, and offering ideas for healthier snacks and drinks.

With Fizz Free Feb well underway, they’ve been including conversations at cooking classes about fizzy drinks and sending out Fizz Free Feb resources with ingredient kits.

Jo Howie ANutr, Food and Health Development Officer at Edinburgh Community Food says: “The Fizz Free February campaign is a great way to help raise the awareness of the amounts of sugar in drinks and ties into our Family Smiles project very well.”

The highlight of running Family Smiles and Fizz Free Feb, says Jo, is hearing the positive feedback from parents and knowing that the project has had a positive impact on the whole family’s health.

“This has been an eye opener for me. I learnt a lot of things which have been informing my choices and that of my family members. I am also telling as many as wish to listen regarding the link between food and health. I’m very happy I was a part of this project.” – Participant of Family Smiles

“I initially came to the course looking for inspiration for child friendly recipes, I came away with a lot more - oral health, hidden sugars, healthy snacks and simple recipes. Thanks Jo!” – Participant of Family Smiles

Edinburgh Community Food carried out a survey after Fizz Free Feb 2021 and found that at the end of the month, most families reported a decrease in their consumption of sugary drinks. Some of the benefits that parents noticed were:  

  • a reduction in stomach issues and indigestion
  • feeling healthier 
  • feeling pleased that their children weren’t drinking so much sugary juice 

100% of respondents said that they would continue to reduce fizzy and sugary drinks in their diet, and the hope is that children will be influenced by their parents’ positive experiences. 

Jo Howie says: “I hope that more people will take part in Fizz Free Feb and continue to reduce their sugar intake. We hope that they can make small changes that they can continue longer term.”

Published Tuesday 15 February 2022

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