Football Clubs in Lancashire team up to help tackle Sugary Drinks

  • Three football clubs in Lancashire partner with Lancashire County Council, Healthy Stadia and Food Active to help children to cut back on sugary drinks
  • Using the power of their club’s badge, Accrington Stanley, Fleetwood Town and Preston North End will encourage children to Give Up Loving Pop this summer
  • Community coaches will use classroom-based activities and physical activity to raise awareness of the health harms of high-sugar and diet drinks
  • Children and young people challenged to Give Up Loving Pop for 21 days

As the temperature continues to rise outside, three football clubs in Lancashire have teamed-up with Lancashire County Council, Healthy Stadia and Food Active to help children cut back on sugary drinks this summer.

Using the power of their club’s badge, community coaches from Accrington Stanley, Fleetwood Town and Preston North End will encourage school children to “Give Up Loving Pop” and to drink more water and low-fat milk.

Whilst many people are aware that excess consumption of sugar, particularly sugary drinks, can lead to tooth decay, fewer are aware of the link between high-sugar drinks and weight gain. In the long-term, regular consumption of sugary drinks can increase the likelihood of developing other serious health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and various forms of cancer.

Data from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) also reveals that 4 in 10 Year 6 children in Hyndburn (39.3%) and 3 in 10 Year 6 children in Preston (31.8%) and Wyre (29.1%) carry excess weight.

And the situation in the North West is no better when it comes to oral health, with more than one in three children (33.9%) having obvious dental decay at age five, compared to the England average of 23.3%.

However, Hyndburn (45.8%) and Preston (39.6%), two of the Give Up Loving Pop delivery areas, have considerably higher rates of children with obvious decay at age 5, underlining the need for effective interventions at the earliest possible stage.

To help tackle this, specially trained community coaches will deliver classroom-based games and physical activities to Year 5 children that will teach them why it is important to look after their teeth and gums, how to read and interpret food labels on bottles or cans of drinks, and why hydration is important for their education and playing sports.

Children and young people will also be challenged to cut right back on sugary drinks and to Give Up Loving Pop for 21 days as part of the GULP Lancashire project:

  • At Key Stage 2, children will score points for cutting back on sugary drinks with the highest-scoring Primary School classes from Hyndburn, Wyre and Preston winning exclusive prizes from Accrington Stanley, Fleetwood Town and Preston North End respectively.
  • At Key Stage 3, young people will be encouraged to sign-up to and follow a Facebook campaign which will highlight the marketing techniques used by sugary drinks manufacturers to promote their products.

As part of the project, all Key Stage 2 children will receive a reusable water bottle and a postcard containing information on sugary drinks to take home to their parents. It is hoped that these initiatives, which will be evaluated by researchers at Liverpool John Moores University, will begin to change the attitude and behaviours of children and young people toward high-sugar drinks.

Matthew Philpott, Director, European Healthy Stadia Network said:

“It is fantastic to see professional football clubs and their community trusts use the power of their badge to help children and young people to cut back on sugary drinks.

“We hope that other football stakeholders will take note and reconsider their relationship with high-sugar drink companies, which use sport and physical activity to associate their products with a healthy and active lifestyle, which runs contrary to what the evidence is telling us – that sugary drinks are bad for our health, in particular for our children.”

Beth Bradshaw, Food Active Project Officer said:

“Despite some sugary drinks manufacturers reformulating their products following the introduction of the Sugar Tax, many traditional fizzy drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks still contain huge amounts of sugar – up to 16 cubes of sugar for some – which can be extremely detrimental to children’s health.

“Even diet and zero drinks, which have previously been seen as a step in the right direction, contain lots of acid which can soften tooth enamel. Part of the reason we are still seeing huge numbers of children in the North West under five years of age being admitted to hospital for tooth extractions is the acid in high-sugar drinks.” 

Harriet Creighton-Levis, Head of Education and Health, Preston North End Community & Education Trust said:

“As Preston’s local professional football club and Community Trust, it is almost our duty to help combat these alarming figures, and through this fantastic new initiative – alongside our Education Programmes, we’re hoping that we can encourage more children to ‘Give Up Loving Pop’ this summer.

“Football can play such an important role in a child’s development, so it’s vital that we are educating children of the impact of excess sugar consumption through sugary drinks – using an array of sporting examples through classroom-based and physical activity sessions, we hope to educate not only the children but parents alike.”

Lee Walsh, Head of Sport, Accrington Stanley Community Trust said:

“We can’t wait to get involved and start delivering the GULP project. It’s an important issue especially in our local area and we are pleased we can use the power of Accrington Stanley to spread the message.

“Although many schools now ban sugary drinks a lot of children still consume them after school is finished and at the weekends – we feel it’s about educating these children and through them, their parents in order to have a real impact. This project will allow us to do just that.”

Rob Larcombe, Sports Development Officer (Health and Wellbeing) said:

“Here at Fleetwood Town Community Trust, health and wellbeing is high on our agenda and we actively seek to improve the lives of people within the community.

“Give Up Loving Pop is an exciting project run with Healthy Stadia that aims to reduce sugar intake in children through reducing the amount of unhealthy drinks they consume. This is a major issue in society today as high sugar intake is directly related to poor health. We are therefore keen supporters of this project and are looking forward to delivering this within schools over the next few weeks.”

You can follow the GULP Challenge Facebook campaign here beginning Monday 11 June 2018:

www.facebook.com/GiveUpLovingPop