Tower Hamlets Council joined up with partners to deliver the borough’s first Sugar Smart Day during February half-term in Idea Store Whitechapel.
The event saw the Mayor of Tower Hamlets and Councillor Amina Ali join partners including Diabetes UK and Queen Mary University of London’s (Queen Mary) dental team to talk to residents about the health effects of eating and drinking too much sugar.
Children currently consume around three times more sugar than the daily limit, while adults consume twice as much as they should.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said: “Cutting the amount of sugar we consume in our food and drink is something we should all be doing to improve our health. We are committed to supporting our residents to be more Sugar Smart by making simple swaps in their diet. This will help people to maintain a healthy weight and keep their teeth free from tooth decay.”
Currently around two in five children in Tower Hamlets leave primary school overweight, while a third of five year olds have tooth decay, which can be incredibly painful. By raising awareness of how much sugar is in food and drink, the council hopes to make steps towards tackling this.
Councillor Amina Ali, Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing, said: “People are often shocked at the amount of sugar that’s in everyday foods, which is why we want to do everything we can to make sure our residents are empowered to make healthy choices. Our Sugar Smart Day was a fantastic opportunity for residents to hear from different organisations on the health implications of too much sugar.”
The Sugar Smart Day is just the latest initiative the council is taking part in as part of the wider national campaign. It is run by the alliance Sustain, which aims to help local authorities, organisations, workplaces and individuals to reduce the amount of sugar they consume.
Recently, the council’s public health team has been working with Queen Mary dental students to deliver workshops to pupils at school about sugar and dental health. The students interacted with pupils and showed videos about healthy living, including reading food labels and working out the sugar content in fizzy drinks and juices. So far, this has been delivered in 16 schools across the borough.
Dr Huda Yusuf, Senior Clinical Lecturer in Dental Public Health at Queen Mary University of London, said: “Sugar Smart is such an important programme to help promote healthy weight and healthy mouths among primary school children. This is the second year that our students have visited eight schools across the borough with great success, reaching over 2,700 children. We look forward to working with the council next year so we can help educate children in more schools about how to look after their health.”