Tower Hamlets signs up to ‘sugar reduction and healthier food’ charter

Sugar pledge signing... Tower Hamlets associate public health director Esther Trenchard-Mabere (left

Sugar pledge signing... Tower Hamlets associate public health director Esther Trenchard-Mabere (left) with Mayor John Biggs, chief executive Will Tuckley and public health director Dr Somen Banerjee. Picture: KOIS MIAH - Credit: LBTH

A charter drawn up by local authorities in east London to curb child obesity and reduce sugar in foods on public sale has been signed first by Tower Hamlets Council.

Healthy food at Poplar's Spring in Chrisp Street Market in 2015. Picture: REHAN JHAMIL

Healthy food at Poplar's Spring in Chrisp Street Market in 2015. Picture: REHAN JHAMIL - Credit: Poplar Harca

The authority recognises “a huge problem” with more than one-in-four children being overweight or obese by the time they start secondary school.

It is the first London borough to sign the Local Government Declaration promoted by the Sustain charity for healthier food and better farming.

“It’s difficult to make the right choices,” Sustain’s Sofia Parente said. “We’re surrounded by unhealthy food, the wrong advertising messages and when sugary drinks are cheaper than water.

“But the council is doing everything it can to help workers and pupils eat healthier.”

St Paul's Whitechapel school which won a helthy eating award in 2016

St Paul's Whitechapel school which won a helthy eating award in 2016 - Credit: St Paul's Whitechapel

Tower Hamlets has some of the highest rates of tooth decay and child obesity in the country. Britain’s first child obesity clinic, in fact, was set up at the Royal London Hospital 11 years ago.


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Now the charter aims to reduce obesity and other diet-related diseases such as dental decay, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said: “The council is challenging the serious health implications which come with eating too much sugar.”

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Businesses selling foods high in sugar, fat and salt are facing continued restrictions with the council now pledged to tackle advertising and sponsorship, bringing in a voluntary ‘sugary drinks’ levy on sales at council-run canteens and offering “healthy choices” at public events.

Healthy food in schools is being encouraged. Four primary schools won awards last year at City Hall for their healthy lifestyle programmes—St Paul’s Whitechapel, Globe in Bethnal Green, Harry Gosling in Whitechapel and Mayflower in Poplar.

More and more stall-holders selling fresh produce in East End markets like Whitechapel and Poplar’s Chrisp Street have been signing up to the council’s ‘food for health’ award scheme launched two years ago.

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