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Battle of the Bulge as ‘sugar smart’ Tower Hamlets declares war on child obesity and tooth rot

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 March 2020

Youngsters on the Isle of Dogs are open mouthed about the high content of sugar they have found in food. Picture: Kois Miah

Youngsters on the Isle of Dogs are open mouthed about the high content of sugar they have found in food. Picture: Kois Miah

Kois Miah/LBTH

Schools are getting their teeth into a campaign to cut down on sugar, with the East End having one of the country’s highest rates of tooth decay and child obesity.

Community 'navigators' ready to steer the public through pathways to healthier diets at Whitechapel's 'sugar smart' event. Picture: LBTHCommunity 'navigators' ready to steer the public through pathways to healthier diets at Whitechapel's 'sugar smart' event. Picture: LBTH

The annual campaign began with a Sugar Smart Day in Whitechapel as a "sweetener" to future programmes to get youngsters on to healthy diets.

Children are consuming three times more sugar than the daily limit, while adults consume twice as much, according to research.

So stalls were set up at the Whitechapel Idea Store where organisations like Diabetes UK, Queen Mary University and Tower Hamlets Council met the public.

Advice even came from mayor John Biggs on how to reduce the bad stuff we consume.

Even toddlers at Allen Gardens nursery school in Spitalfields have joined the council's 'sugar smart' campaign with healthy fruit at lunchtime. Picture: LBTHEven toddlers at Allen Gardens nursery school in Spitalfields have joined the council's 'sugar smart' campaign with healthy fruit at lunchtime. Picture: LBTH

"Cutting sugar in our food and drink will improve health," he urged. "People should be more 'sugar smart' by making simple swaps in their diet to maintain a healthy weight and avoid tooth decay."

Two out of every five children leave Tower Hamlets primary schools overweight, while a third of all the five-year-olds have tooth decay, local health authority statistics show.

The council has been working with Queen Mary dental students to run workshops in schools about sugar and dental health. The workshops include awareness to check food labels when shopping and working out the sugar content in fizzy drinks and juices.

Youngsters from Cubitt Town Primary School on the Isle of Dogs took part in a council campaign in 2016, launching an app on their smartphones and tablets.

Pupils from Cubitt Town Priimary check the sugar content using an app at Nisa foodstore with Cllr Amy Whitelock Gibbs (left). Picture: Kois MiahPupils from Cubitt Town Priimary check the sugar content using an app at Nisa foodstore with Cllr Amy Whitelock Gibbs (left). Picture: Kois Miah

They used them to check produce at the nearby Nisa foodstore in Manchester Road, which won a council award for its fresh fruit and vegetables.

The pupils chose three items in the store that had less sugar and also acted as "shopkeepers" scanning items through the till.

Cllr Amy Whitelock Gibbs said at the time: "We are aware of the dangers of obesity to youngsters which has been a huge problem with children overweight or obese.

"It's a challenge to get kids off sugar products, but we're working to get them into the right habit early in life."

Children aged four to 10 consume the equivalent of 5,500 sugar cubes every year, so the campaign targets seven-year-olds before they get hooked on sugars as they grow older.


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