SUGAR SMART Newcastle Campaign aims to improve city's oral health and access to free water

SUGAR SMART Newcastle launched on Wednesday 14 November at the Beacon Centre, with an impressive partnership of settings, businesses and groups from across the city joining up to tackle the impacts of sugar overconsumption on their local communities.

SUGAR SMART Newcastle launch, credit Newcastle City Council

SUGAR SMART Newcastle launch, credit Newcastle City Council

The event was kicked off by Bev Bookless, Chair of Food Newcastle, who highlighted how the sugar reduction campaign contributes to the broader work of the partnership's food strategy for the city. The Newcastle Good Food Plan has been produced by Food Newcastle and has prioritised tackling excessive sugar as one of its key strands of work.

Speakers included Newcastle Hospitals Trust's Oral Health Promotion Lead Debora Howe, the Hospitals' Catering Manager Geoff Moyle, Newcastle City Council's Schools Catering Manager Gillian Battista, Refill North East Coordinator Charlotte Hawkins and Julie Stephens of HealthWorks, a charity that helps local communities improve their health and wellbeing and runs a popular community cafe.

Speakers highlighted existing and future work to improve the food served across the city, expand and promote access to free drinking water and tackle poor oral health due to sugar, particularly in drinks.

In Newcastle, 63.2% of adults are classified as overweight and obese, just below the English average. Yet health statistics for children and young people are worse: 11.9% of reception age children were obese compared to England average of 9.6%, and 23.6% of year 6 children are obese, compared to the England average of 20.0%. In 2016/17, 450 Newcastle children and young people aged 0-19 years were admitted to hospital due to preventable dental decay, of whom 353 were aged 0-9 years. Most of these admissions were for tooth extraction under anaesthetic.

The event was chaired by Councillor Kim McGuinness, Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for Culture, Sport and Public Health, who said:

Consuming too much sugar through what we eat and drink is a key contributor to the obesity epidemic to which Newcastle is in no way immune. It is vital that we educate people right the way through from the consumer to the manufacturer about the strain it is putting on the NHS.

I am therefore pleased to help launch SUGAR SMART Newcastle to help improve the health of our residents and set a good example to our children and future generations.

The campaign is coordinated by Food Nation, a social enterprise providing practical and innovative food education activities for the general public, schools and businesses in the Newcastle area. Oral Health Promotion Lead Debora Howe chairs the SUGAR SMART Newcastle Working Group. Newcastle was one of 16 areas across the UK to receive a Sustainable Food Cities campaign grant in 2017/18.

SUGAR SMART is a campaign run by Sustain. SUGAR SMART is one of the featured campaigns in the UK's Sustainable Food Cities Network.

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