Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has joined forces with Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership to urge local residents to stop the fizz during February and ditch sugary drinks for a month.

In support of the new ‘Fizz Free February’ national campaign which began on Friday 1st February, both the Mayor and the Partnership’s Deputy Director for Population Health Jane Pilkington have pledged to cut out sugary fizzy drinks for 28 days – and are urging residents and colleagues to do the same.

People can sign up and support the campaign through the Fizz Free February website or via social media via the hash tag #gofizzfree

Fizzy soft drinks can still often contain high amounts of sugar and the acid in carbonated drinks can attack teeth as soon as you drink them.

Damage from sugary fizzy drinks can particularly affect children. Recent Public Health England figures show that sugar now makes up 13.5% of the diet of 4-10 year olds and 14.1% of teenagers.

As a result children have often already exceeded the maximum sugar intake for an 18 year old by the time they reach their tenth birthday.

In Greater Manchester almost a quarter of pupils in the area start school overweight, with the figure rising to a third when leaving primary school and around two thirds in adulthood.

Locally the amount of sugar in children’s diets is also having a major impact on dental health with 1 in 3 five year olds in the area experiencing tooth decay – well above the England national average of 25%. In some local areas this number is more than 50%.

Andy Burnham said: “Obesity is a huge issue across the country and locally and that’s why I’m taking part in Fizz Free February to raise awareness of how excess sugar consumption can have terrible effects on health.

“I don’t think people necessarily realise how much sugar is in these drinks and what it can do to your body – causing obesity and even things like type 2 diabetes.

“I hope other local people and organisations will get on board and go fizz free this February.”

Jane Pilkington, the Partnership’s Deputy Director for Population Health adds: “There is no doubt that sugary fizzy drinks have a seriously bad impact on our health, particularly amongst younger people and children and this is a great opportunity for all of us to take a stand and show the door to them.

“Most soft drinks contain excessive sugar and the additional damage caused by the acid in carbonated drinks means the damage is twofold. If we all make the pledge and decide to go fizz free with our choice of drinks then the effects can only be beneficial.

”Our support for this initiative forms part of our wider Population Health programme to help transform the health and well being of local residents in Greater Manchester.

“As part of this programme we have recently launched a number of important initiatives across the city region, including a £1.5m scheme to help improve the oral health of under 5s, as well as a further £575,000 to tackle malnutrition and dehydration among over 65s.”

The Partnership is also supporting Public Health England’s Change4Life ‘make a swap when you next shop’ campaign which encourages parents to avoid high sugar products when buying food and drink products for their children.

Sugary soft drinks, mainly fizzy drinks, make up an average of 29 per cent of free sugar intake for 11-18 year olds, the single largest source of sugar in their diet. Excess sugar consumption leads to obesity, conditions like diabetes and can have negative effects on bones and teeth.

Every 10 minutes a child in the UK has a tooth removed because of preventable tooth decay.

Despite the introduction of the sugar tax many fizzy drinks still contain very high levels of sugar.

  • A can of Original Coca Cola – 35g of sugar = 145% of a child’s recommended daily sugar intake
  • A can of IRN BRU – 34g of sugar = 142% of a child’s recommended daily sugar intake
  • A can of Fanta Orange – 15g of sugar = 63% of a child’s recommended sugar intake
  • A can of Original Pepsi – 41g of sugar = 171% of a child’s recommended sugar intake

If a child drank a can of original Coke every day for a month they would be consuming the equivalent of an entire bag of sugar.

The hard truth about soft drinks:

  • You can save £438 a year if you stopped drinking one bottle of soft drink, per day for a year
  • Drinking just one 330ml can of fizzy drink a day could add up to over a stone weight gain per year
  • Tooth decay is the leading cause for hospitalisation among 5-9 year olds in the UK, with 26,000 children being hospitalised each year due to tooth decay – in other words, 500 each week

For more reasons why you should quit fizzy drinks visit the Fizz Free February website.

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