In December, Merton Council took its fight to creating a healthier borough a step further by signing a Local Authority Declaration, committing to reduce sugar consumption in the borough and promote healthier eating.
On average children in England, now consume more than double the recommended daily amount of sugar. By 11 years of age, 1 in 3 children in Merton are either overweight or obese with a similar picture seen across London. Signing the declaration shows the positive and proactive steps that Merton Council is taking to support families to be healthier.
Drafted by London charity Sustain, an alliance of organisations working together to improve the food available in London, the declaration requires councils to take significant actions to tackle unhealthy food and drink in their boroughs. Merton council leaders have committed to measures such as combating the advertising of unhealthy foods and improving the food available at public events and on our high streets.
As a result, for the first time, Merton Council’s Morden Fireworks events in November 2018 offered a greater variety of healthy alternatives for the public. The council will be reviewing its advertising policy to ensure that council-owned advertising supports healthy eating and will continue to work with its school meals suppliers to reduce the sugar in school meals. The council will also work with its internal caterers to deliver healthier food and drink options for staff members.
This year Merton Council will also launch a local “Sugar Smart” campaign that will focus on engaging local businesses, residents and organisations to pledge to take actions to reduce their sugar consumption.
The Leader of the Council Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “We want to ensure that children in Merton have a healthy start in life. Preventing obesity which later leads to chronic diseases is important to us. There is hidden sugar in everyday foods which we often miss unless we read the packaging, which is why we are working in collaboration with Sustain and local partners to ensure that we effectively create a healthier borough for everyone. Signing the declaration shows our commitment to tackling childhood obesity.”
Dr Dagmar Zeuner, Director of Public Health at Merton Council said: “Childhood obesity is a complex issue and there is no single solution. Therefore a preventative, whole systems approach is required, which recognises the influence of the places where we live, work and play on our health and well-being, as well as our individual behaviours and choices.”
Merton council is also supporting the national Change4Life campaign starting in January urging families to “Make a swap when you next shop” encouraging simple swaps to food and drink options that are lower in sugar.”
If you would like to cut back on the sugar you and your family are eating, why not visit Change4Life and start swapping some everyday items high in sugar for healthier options? The Change4Life website contains information about the free app Food Scanner, which you can download to help you know the sugar content of your food and to compare products.