One in three children in St Helens are overweight by the time they are 11, a shock new council report has revealed.
Town hall chiefs say the statistic forms part of a compelling case for backing plans to curb the amount of sugar consumed by youngsters in the borough.
As many of the sugar is hidden it can be difficult to avoid sugar and the recommendations in this report will help to make healthy choices the easy choicesLiz Gaulton, St Helens’ director of public health
Figures also show two in three adults in St Helens are overweight.
One in three children are affected by tooth decay by the time they are five years old.
Sugar is often hidden in manufactured food and drinks and people are often taking more than they realise.
For example, a can of fizzy drink can have up to seven cubes of sugar.
The findings of a recent Public Health England study mirror St Helens Council’s own research and ongoing efforts to cut the amount of sugar consumed by young people.
And in light of the recent findings, the council is re-doubling its efforts.
A ‘Swap the Pop’ campaign is beoing rolled out to encourage residents to pledge that they’d exchange high sugar fizzy drinks for healthier alternatives such as water, milk and sugar-free drinks.
It followed some direct action at Haydock High School in St Helens, where young people were shocked to discover that some of their drinks had as much as 15 teaspoons of sugar and high levels of caffeine.
After dropping the sugary drinks, Haydock teachers reported an all-round improvement in behaviour - with students more focused in lessons and a big decrease in the amount of litter left lying around the school.
Coun Jeanie Bell, cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “We know from our own experience here in St Helens that taking sugar out of the equation brings big benefits.”
Liz Gaulton, St Helens’ director of Public Health, added: “The Public Health England report presents the best evidence from across the world for what works in reducing the amount of high sugar food and drink that we have.
“As many of the sugar is hidden it can be difficult to avoid sugar and the recommendations in this report will help to make healthy choices the easy choices.”